1. Establish your requirements
The most important thing to think about when buying a new car, is how you plan to use it, and how it needs to fit into your lifestyle.
For example, if you’re buying a car for you and your family, you may need something practical for the kids with a large amount of boot space. If you do a lot of motorway driving, you might want a car with a larger diesel engine that will give you the extra power you require. Or, if you do a lot of city centre driving, you might just want something small and nippy to easily get you from A to B. In a 2019 survey, it was revealed fuel efficiency was the most important feature people look for in a car, with 61% of respondents saying it was key factor in their car buying decision, so this might be something you want to consider as well.
Once you know what you’re looking for, then you can move onto stage two…
2. Decide on your budget
When you’re looking for a new car, you have to work out how much you’re willing to, and can realistically afford to pay.
Working out your budget, don’t just mean focusing on the upfront price of the car. Yes, you will need to estimate that, but it’s essential to be mindful of the other costs that are going to come into play. There’s fuel and running costs, insurance payments, breakdown cover, and road tax to consider; you’ll need to work these expenses into your budget.
Obviously, without having selected a car yet you won’t be able to work it out to the exact pound, but it’s good to have a figure in mind that you can stick to. That way, you can be more prepared when it comes to the next part of the process.
3. Do your research
Research is something we strongly advise you do before buying a new car; you need to know what’s available, what the cost is, and basically what you’re getting yourself into before you commit.
Go on the internet and browse dealership websites; and also a take a look at independent car reviews to get a feel for which cars best fit your requirements. You can start your search wide and narrow it down, or you may already have a brand in mind that you want to stick with, so go from there.
If you need some inspiration, or you're torn between two very similar cars, check out our Head-to-Head comparisons
Once you’ve found one (or a few) potential cars, get down to the nitty gritty of looking at the insurance costs, the specifications and where they’re available to buy. There are many different sellers in the market, so do some price comparisons between them to make sure you’re getting the best deal. You could even call up or visit a dealership and discuss your options more extensively. Here at Inchcape, we’re always happy to help you in whatever way we can.
4. Take your time
Unless you have urgent time constraints in which to buy a car, it’s best not to rush the process. A car is too important and too expensive to be impulsive with, so it’s far better if you take your time and thoroughly weigh up your options before making a final decision. If you do need to buy a car quickly, try and be as clued up as possible to avoid any issues arising later on.
5. Choose a seller you trust
Trust is a big factor when it comes to buying a car, so you need to make sure whoever you’re buying it from is reliable and will provide you with security.
With a private seller, it might seem like you’re getting an incredible deal, but you may have very little comeback if anything goes wrong with the car. With a dealership, you’ll get a full warranty, have a bigger range of finance options to choose from, and benefit from peace of mind in knowing that you can easily contact them if you ever have any issues further down the line.
6. Go for a test drive
As the saying goes, try before you buy, and that couldn’t be more appropriate when buying a new car.
It’s all well and good reading about a car on paper, but you’ll only get a real feel for it when you take it out and experience what it’s like on the open road. On a test drive, it can be easy to get carried away with the fact you’re driving your potential new car, but you need to make sure you’re alert and paying attention to all the key aspects.
How much space do you have inside? What is the ride quality like? Do you like the style and layout of the infotainment system? Do you have good visibility? These are some of the fundamental questions you should be asking yourself to make sure the car really is right for you.
If you need some advice, read our guide for some top tips on what to look out for on a test drive.
7. Finalise the details
You’ve done your research, you’ve had your test drive, and you’ve found your perfect, brand new car. Now, you need to finalise the details.
There might be a variety of body colours to choose from, or different styles of interior, so you need to decide what your preferences are. There could be a range of engines available, and the car may come as a manual or an automatic, so you really need to lock down your unique specification. Different car brands also have optional extras packages, so if there’s something extra you think would improve your ride quality, now is the time to discuss your options and select your add-ons.
8. Consider your payment options
When you’re happy with your final car spec, it’s time to start discussing payment options.
There are a number of ways you can pay for your new car, whether you want to pay the full cost upfront, or spread it over monthly payments, so it’s important to be aware of what options are available to you. From there you can decide what’s going to work best.
For more information on what car finance options we have available at Inchcape, and to find out how they work, take a look at our finance page.
9. Check the paperwork
If you’re buying a used car, this is particularly crucial. You need to make sure the full service and MOT records are available, and that you have a full history of the vehicle. This is relevant for your own purposes, but also if, in time, you decide to sell the car on.
Even with a new car, you need to carefully check all of the paperwork so you’re clued up on your warranty details, your payment plan, and your rights as the owner. Once you’ve committed, you can’t always backtrack, so make sure you’re happy will all of the information beforehand.
10. Enjoy it
When it comes to buying a car, just enjoy the process. It does take some work in terms of research and time investment, but overall it’s a very exciting experience.
It’s a fantastic feeling when you’re finally handed the keys, and you can fire up the engine and drive away in your perfect car. At that point, you’ll realise that it was all worth it.