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Our Car Buying Guide

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Buying a car is one of the top reasons why people want to borrow with us. Check out this guide to ensure you get a good deal.


What car to buy?

As soon as you drive a new car off the forecourt you'll lose money, usually thousands of pounds! You may also have a long wait for a brand new car as global chip shortages and issues with shipping mean wait times can be long. Whether you are considering buying a new car or second hand the tips below will help you get the best deal for your new car.


On average, a new car loses almost half of its value in the first three years, and some lose their value even faster. That's a lot to lose on one of your biggest purchases. Buying a car that's one or two years old or an ex-demo car is typically far better value than a brand new one.


If fuel economy is an important factor choose a car that's engine size suits your driving. A 1.0-litre will burn less fuel than a 2.0-litre when being driven around town but if a small engine is used at high speed, it'll need to work much harder to keep the car moving - burning more fuel. Petrol cars tend to be cheaper than diesel and the fuel tends to be cheaper too but Diesel engines are often more economical.


A hybrid or electric car often costs more to start with but some are offered with Government grants and cheap or zero tax rates. They also tend to hold their value for resale.


Check the Road Tax and Car Insurance rates. Smaller cars tend to be cheaper to insure. Check the insurance group rating of the model you have in mind. Cars are placed in groups for insurance ranked between 1 and 50. The higher the number, the bigger your insurance premium. Check the cars CO2 emissions the most polluting cars pay the most road tax. More information can be found on the GOV.UK website. Car fuel and CO2 emissions data - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Timing - Car dealerships often have targets to hit every quarter so the end of March, June, September and December can be a good time to buy. Avoid busy times such as weekends and just after pay day to avoid competition with other buyers.


If you have a car to sell selling privately can get you a much better price than part exchange but it comes with hassle and can take time so it depends if you want to put in the effort.


Haggle to get the best deal. Research the cheapest web price and contact dealers for their best deal. Dealers often say they cannot give discounts but you can still ask them to include something for free like a years breakdown cover, new tyres if they are showing wear or a service.


Don't come across as too keen or the seller will have guessed you are going to buy and wont feel the need to try to win your business.


What to watch out for when buying a used car?

When you are shopping for used cars, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you don't run the right vehicle history check, the great deal could actually leave you out of pocket further down the line. It’s also a good idea to bear in mind that the older the car the more likely it is to rack up costs in future repairs and maintenance.


The first thing you’ll want to check is whether the car is what it should be. Does the colour match what it states in the V5 logbook? Was the car imported? Has the registration plate ever changed from the original?


Imported cars can end up costing you more in insurance premiums as well as causing problems if you need parts, due to mechanical differences and less standard kit. UK diagnostic equipment is often incompatible with imports which means you may not be able to get the car serviced properly. All of this means it is likely to have a lower value if and when you come to sell the car on, so you may want to steer clear.


The V5c will give you some insight into the current and number of registered keepers of the car, including how long they have each owned it. A car that has one owner from new may have been looked after better than a car that has changed hands frequently. One-owner cars you are likely to have a better understanding of where the car has been, who has maintained it and the level to which it has been maintained. With cars that have had multiple-owners, if you don't have the information as to how the car has been maintained, deferred maintenance can be more costly. However, the V5c it won’t tell you if the vehicle is stolen, has previously been written off, or has outstanding finance. All these things can end up costing you an awful lot more money in the long run.


If the used car you’ve bought turns out to be stolen, it’s likely to be repossessed with no financial recompense, leaving you car-less and having to find the money from somewhere to buy another one. Many of the free car checks that are available won’t tell you if a car has been stolen.


Similarly, if it turns out there’s still existing finance attached to your new used car, you’ll either end up being responsible for paying it off or having the car reclaimed by the finance company who technically still owns it. You can save yourself a lot of stress and money with a comprehensive paid car check that tells you instantly whether or not the car you are interested in has any outstanding finance payments.


You’ll also want to check the car hasn’t been written-off by insurers. This isn’t always obvious by just looking at the vehicle. While a used car may look safe to drive, it could actually be in need of important repairs to make it safe, which will end up costing you. There is also a practice called ‘cut ‘n’ shut’ where two or more salvaged vehicles are put together to make what appears to be an original car. Not only is this highly dangerous, but it can also end up costing you a lot of money in additional repairs or losing the vehicle altogether if ‘cut ‘n’ shut’ status is discovered.


A comprehensive vehicle check can assess for all of these scenarios, whether the vehicle you are looking at has been stolen or scrapped, written off, or is ex-salvage. You can not only save yourself from wasting time looking at problematic used cars, but also avoid the expense of suddenly losing the car later down the line.


The HPI Check report available from the link below is a fully comprehensive vehicle check, it costs £19.99 for a single check or £29.99 for multicheck (3 checks) but it could save you from much bigger losses if you don't check.


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