Top tips for choosing your first car

Choosing your first car can be a rather daunting task for many first-time drivers. You’re probably most used to pottering around in your mum’s old Nissan Micra, or completely in tune with your instructor’s teaching vehicle. But now you’re a fully-fledged driver and it’s time to make that leap, and buy a car of your very own!

If you’ve had your driving lessons in Birmingham, or any other well-populated city, then you probably have a good idea of what you’re up against. There’s a lot more to consider than just the outward aesthetic of your first automobile – and we’re here to help guide you through it.

Read on to find out more!

Tip # 1: Old vs. New

When it comes to buying your first car, there’s often a toss up between buying a brand-new vehicle (usually paid off monthly with finance) and scooping up an old banger for an attractively low price – especially if the money is coming out of your own pocket.

Buying a used car is nothing to be frowned at – there are some really good deals out there for great quality second-hand cars! But the truth is, opting for a sparkly new model will mean that you always receive a warranty, giving you an extra piece of back-up, should anything go wrong. The chances of there being a mechanical problem in the first place is also considerably lower with a brand-new car, as there will have been no previous owners to put it through its paces.

It’s also worth noting that buying from new guarantees certain pieces of safety-increasing kit like anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control will have been fitted, whereas with a used and/or older model, it’s unlikely you’ll find these features.

Tip # 2: Keep a clean record

One of the main factors that can get in the way of your new set of wheels is the sky-high insurance costs that come along with it. As a fresh race on the road, your lack of experience will unfortunately go against you in the eyes of a prospective insurer. The upfront cost is somewhat unavoidable, but if you manage to keep yourself out of trouble for a minimum of 12 months you will be rewarded with a no-claims discount which will be applied to your premium.

Continue to keep a clean record, and this discount will only grow!

Tip # 3: Fit a Black Box

Another way to boost your potential for a no-claims bonus is to have your car fitted with an insurer-approved “Black Box”. This is an electronic device that is plugged into your car’s system and monitors your overall speed, smoothness and usage. This handy little box will also record information about the time of day that you drive, as well as the number of journeys you take – correlating its findings and figuring out how at risk of an accident you might be.

You and your insurer can then review this information, and identify where you might be able to improve. Return a good score to your insurance company and you could be in for even more reductions on your cover payments.

Tip # 4: Opt for petrol

Choosing a smaller car will work in your favour, and you’re unlikely to find one of those if your chosen fuel is diesel. Quite simply, driving a car that’s powered by petrol makes a lot more sense for a new, inexperienced driver. You’d only be awarded with the fuel consumption benefits of diesel if you found yourself doing a lot of miles on the motorway –a very unlikely feat for a first-time driver!

A small, petrol-fuelled car will save you money in the long-run, and allow you to keep those extra pennies to save up for your next, all-grown-up vehicle.

Tip # 5: First car-friendly features

If it’s going to be your first time behind your very own wheel, then it’s a no-brainer that you should strive to make the experience as easy as possible. There are many features in cars that are out there today that lend a hand to all drivers alike, new and old. Opting for a stop-start detail is always a good idea – particularly on the eco-friendly front – whether it comes as standard with your car or you have to pay out extra. Not only is it better for the environment, it will allow you to further reduce your running costs, and only use as much fuel as you truly need. The feeling of the engine cutting out when your car is in neutral may be a little unnerving to start with, but it’s something you’ll easily get used to.

You also want to look out for cars with lighter steering, good visibility features, responsive brakes and user-friendly controls. If there’s anything you can have in your car to help build your confidence on the road, then it’s definitely worth having!

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So, we hope that you’re now a little more clued up on what to look out for when choosing your first car. Try to think a little less about how you’ll look in your car, and more about how you’ll feel. The more confident a car’s features make you, the better driver you’ll be!

Best of luck, and happy driving!

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Pete White Pete White

Love Shrewsbury editor and chief developer at The Web Orchard, find out more on petejwhite.com

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