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Buying Your First Car? Here Are Five Tips for New Drivers

17 Nov 2023

Few things in life give you the same sense of freedom than buying your first car. Being able to grab your keys and go wherever you like opens up all sorts of opportunities. But before we get carried away, let’s deal with one very important practicality - how do you find a great first car?

When you’re new to the world of cars, the options can seem endless, and without prior knowledge and experience of the car market, it can be a confusing time. With that in mind, we’re here with five tips to get you started. 

A used car is usually more cost-effective 

As a 17-year-old, the prospect of buying a new car outright seems unlikely unless you’re backed by the Bank of Mum and Dad or you’re the young entrepreneur of the year. The point is that new cars are expensive. These days, you’re looking at over £10,000 for even the cheapest new car. And without a steady income stream, you may not be able to get a finance deal. 

Instead, you should take a look at the used car market. There’s plenty of choice, used cars are far cheaper than new cars, and you're not going to lose a big chunk of the car’s value as soon as you drive it out of the showroom.

If you’re a ‘more mature’ first-time car buyer, new cars can have a lot to offer. You’ll be the first owner, you’ll get a good warranty and your car will be packed full of the latest technology. But, and it is a big but, you’ll always be paying more than you need to. Instead, a used car that comes with a warranty, such as the used cars here at Tangelo, represents a more economical option.

You don’t need to spend a fortune

If you’ve settled on the idea of a used car then you’ll get far more for your money. But how much should you spend? First cars are traditionally thought of as old bangers with two-tone paint jobs and a few dents for added character. However, opting to save on the intial spend can cost you more in the long run. You could end up with a car that has lots of miles on the clock and racks up expensive bills every time you get it serviced or pay for an MOT.

Instead, it’s worth looking for something a little more expensive initially that will stand the test of time. If you don’t plan on doing many longer journeys or heavy mileage, paying under £10,000 should be enough to buy an excellent used car with relatively low mileage and that’s still quite new. 

If you plan on driving up and down the motorway, it’s worth spending a little more to get an efficient and comfortable car with a larger engine. That may cost you  £10,000 and over, with finance deals available for around £200 a month.

Think carefully about the body type

When we talk about body type, we’re referring to the car’s shape. Hatchbacks, saloons, estates, and SUVs are the main body types, with hatchbacks being particularly popular among new drivers. A hatchback is a smaller car that has a boot lid that swings upward and will usually have fold-down second-row seating.  

Generally speaking, hatchbacks are cheap to run, easy to drive, and less expensive to insure (engine size permitting). They’re also big enough but don’t provide as much space as estates and SUVs, which guzzle more fuel and are better suited to families. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from buying a convertible sports car or a Jeep if you want a bit of fun, but always make sure you get insurance quotes before you splash your cash. And that leads us nicely to our next first car-buying tip.

Always get insurance quotes before you buy a car

The cost of insurance can be a very nasty surprise for first-time drivers. Depending on the type of car you buy and the demographic you fall into, the cost to insure your first car can sometimes be more than the value of the car itself. That’s why you should always get insurance quotes before you make a purchase. Using a comparison service is a quick and simple way to search for suitable quotes. 

For insurance purposes, every car is put into a group from one to 50, with cars in the lowest groups being the cheapest to insure. The cars in the lowest groups have smaller engines, are less expensive to repair, and are less likely to be involved in an accident. Hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta, and Fiat 500 are all examples of suitable first cars that are cheap to insure.      

Make sure you get a warranty

If the first car you buy is under two years old, you’ll almost always get a manufacturer’s warranty as standard. The warranty ensures that if certain parts of the car fail, the manufacturer will cover the repair bill. If you buy a used car, you’ll not always get a warranty. That means, if you drive the car out of the showroom and it breaks down on the way home, you’ll be liable for 100% of the repair bill. A warranty will give you peace of mind that if something does go wrong that shouldn’t, you won’t have to pay for the repairs. 

At Tangelo, every used car we sell comes with a free three month RAC Warranty, so in the unlikely event that a key part does fail, you’ll receive hassle-free repairs at no additional cost. An extended warranty is also available at an additional cost for further peace of mind.

Are you looking to purchase your first car? Browse the used cars available from Tangelo to see if your perfect car is in stock. If you would like to book an appointment at our Customer Hub in Exeter, contact the Tangelo Sales team today to find a time that fits.

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