Cars & Garages > Guides

Top five things to know when buying your first car - what to look out for 

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
Oct 6, 2017

Buying your first car is a big moment in any young person's life, but it can be a stressful and complicated process. 

We have compiled a list of important things to consider if you are looking to buy: 


Road silhouette


1) Do your sums 

Before you even start looking, it is important to consider all the hidden costs. 

Running a car costs 20% of a young driver’s annual take-home pay, according to insurer Cuvva. 

Excluding the sale price, running a car if you’re aged 17-22 costs £2,861 a year. 

That’s 19.9% of the average yearly take-home pay of £14,302 for someone in this age group. 

If you buy a used car you can find yourself paying for replacement parts, sooner than you would on a new car. 

Consider these annual add-on costs:

*MOT check - £54.85 (max price) 

*Fuel £1,056 a year (based on about 7,900 miles per year)

*Road tax - £225 a year 

*Insurance - £1,500


2) Buying new or old 

While we'd all love to be driving around in a flash new Audi or Aston Martin, that is not a reality for most first-time buyers. 

Buying a used car will be easier on your bank account, and means you won't have to worry as much about depreciation value. 

After three years on the road, a used car is typically worth 30-40% of the original price, according to What Car.

So it pays – literally – to make sure you pick a car that will hold some value. 

However, a new car would be more economical on fuel and save you money in that area.


3) Paying for it 

You've picked your car, now you just have to pay for it. 

Easier said than done. 

Buying your first car will set you back a few thousand pounds – not something every young person has lying around. 

A personal contract purchase (PCP) or similar finance deal is a good way to get on the road without having to make a huge down-payment. 

But this may be tricky to get depending on how much earn and what credit history you have. 

An obvious fall back option is looking to your mum and dad. 

Otherwise you may have to set your sights on a cheaper and more affordable car. 


4) Insurance 

You've just bought your new pride and joy, the last thing you want is for it to be damaged. 

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to avoid this. 

Accidents with uninsured drivers are on the rise, so be sure you have a policy that covers you.

Insurance will cost you now, but it saves you from paying A LOT further down the road. 

Drivers aged 17-19 can find themselves paying upwards of £1,500 each year for insurance depending on the policy. 

But, with the advent of telematics, car insurance is becoming more affordable for young drivers. 

For more on how to get a great deal on insurance, read our guide: How to slash the price of teens’ car insurance – do’s and don’ts 


Road silhouette


5) Saving fuel 

You're on the road! Great news! 

However, if you are spending a fifth of your income on your car, saving every pound counts. 

One of the easiest ways to do this is to save on fuel. 

Here are a few tips for keeping the costs down. 

*Air conditioning eats up fuel - keep it off at low speeds. 

*Keep your tyres inflated. 

*Reduce harsh braking and over-revving. 

*Don't carry around excess weight. 

*Make fewer short trips by doing all your errands at the same time. 


A Spokesman Said offers price comparison in energy, insurance and broadband that could save you hundreds.