What should I be looking out for when buying my next car?

It can be a daunting task but even a couple of checks can make the difference.

Used car dealership
Used car dealership

Buying a new car – be that fresh from the dealership or used – can be a daunting experience at times. There are so many different things to think about that, at times, it can feel a little overwhelming. However, if you’re prepared to begin with, there’s no reason why buying your next car can’t be a smooth and pleasant operation.

Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the things that are worth keeping in mind when selecting and buying your next car.

Get a budget in mind to start off with

Used car dealership
(Blackball Media)

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Before you go anywhere, it’s worth getting a budget in mind, whether that be buying it outright or with finance. Take a look at some examples of the kind of car you’re interested in and get a ballpark figure of what they cost in your head to start with.

But remember, it’s not just the cost of buying the car. You also have to factor in how much it’ll cost to tax, fill up and insure. So take all of these additional costs into account, too.

Research at home before venturing to the dealer

Information is definitely your friend when you’re buying a car, so use the internet to your advantage and do as much research as you can before buying your next vehicle. Have a look at reviews, take a browse through a manufacturer’s site and even check out an owner’s club to gain more information about a new car.

In doing so, you’ll be in the best place to make sure you choose a car that’s right for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Once you’ve finally ventured to the dealership – if you’ve decided to buy in-person – then don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re buying a brand new car, it could be worth asking about lead times and how long it would take you to get your new car; this is particularly important at the moment given the impact of component shortages.

If you’re looking at a used car, then this is a prime opportunity to find out more about the car’s history. Again, don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Give everything a press

Subaru Forester
The infotainment system incorporates new features

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Once you’re able to have some time with the car you’re interested in it’s a great time to test and press the buttons, features and controls to make sure that they feel right to you. Again, with a used car this is particularly important as it gives you a chance to make sure that everything is working as it should.

However, if you’re in a new car then this is still useful as it allows you to see how certain aspects of the car work. Also, it’ll let you see if you can comfortably reach everything and find a good seating position, too.

Take the test drive

Peugeot 308
(Peugeot)

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A test drive is often seen as the most exciting part of the whole buying process, but it’s also an incredibly important section. It’s a time when you can take in as much as you can about how a car drives and how the controls feel. Check aspects such as visibility and also the ride comfort – you’ll have to live with this car every day, after all.

If it’s a used car you’re looking at then listen out for any odd noises or sounds, but pay close attention to the various controls to ensure that they feel as they should. It can be a good idea to drive slowly with a full amount of left-hand steering lock on, followed by right-hand – this will flag up any issues with the suspension that could be underlying.

Think about finance options

You could take out a personal loan through a bank, which would give you the money to buy the car outright – but then you pay this loan back afterwards. There’s hire purchase, which means that you’re paying off the cost of the car through monthly payments, but at the end of the agreement, you’ll own the vehicle.

Leasing is another popular option, as this brings lower monthly payments – though you won’t own the vehicle at the end of the term. Instead, you’ll give the car back. Finally, personal contract payment (PCP) gives you the choice of whether you want to own the car or not at the end of the contract, when you make an ‘optional final payment’ or you can instead just return the car. PCP is particularly popular with new cars.

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