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Top 10 tips for buying a new car

There are some who’ll tell you that buying a new car is crazy, because of the well-worn adage that "it loses thousands the second you drive off the forecourt." And while there’s truth in that, it’s a simplistic view. In the modern business of selling cars, where sales figure one-upmanship is currency, it’s never been easier to get a new car bargain, no matter your budget.

Here are our tips on getting the right car for you, at the right price. 

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Work out what you need

Obvious, we know, but it’s really important to establish a set of imperatives before you hit the showrooms, with their dizzying combination of special offers, smooth salesmen and machine-vended frothy Flavia. How many seats do you need? What sort of luggage space? Is fuel economy more important than performance?

Are there certain conveniences you can’t live without, like an iPod connection or air conditioning? Will it one day become the kids’ runabout, or do you only plan to keep it for a couple of years? Think about all these things before you begin. 


corinthian    on 22 September 2016

Wrong again , ( apart from pointing out that car dealers don't like cash deals ). With your money making next to nothing in interest at the bank , whatever deal you make, will cost a lot more . Yes I know 0% finance deals are available but, the lender makes the rules, i.e. how much deposit, how long the term and the final payment amount. If you can find the cash, pay by cash ; it won't cost you anything in interest, and the interest you lost at the bank ( typically between £1 and £4 per £1000 per annum ) is hardly anything worth talking about !

Alastair Gordon    on 23 September 2016

Corinthian clearly has not learnt the basic lesson: "If it appreciates, buy it: if it depreciates, lease it."
With a zero interest loan available use the capital not applied in buying the car to invest in assets with potential to grow in value - equities or a classic car or collectable whisky...

Arminius JP    on 14 December 2016

The saying "If it appreciates, buy it: if it depreciates, lease it" over-simplifies and probably often mislead as the first part is intuitively correct but the second part disgusies the fact that a lessor will demand full recompense for the depreciation suffered as well as covering its cost of funds (saving for 0 per cent. deals that are sometimes offered) and other costs. Accordingly, leasing a depreciating asset does not typically allow the leasee to avoid the equivalent costs he would suffer as the outright owner and therefore the decision to lease or buy is often driven by such considerations as the expected frequency of replacing a vehicle and how it is being financed rather than the legal form of its supply.

nigelsmith129    on 2 June 2017

What is not mentioned is the option if you have the cash take out PCP finance and pay it off within the 14 days after signing and keep all the free servicing and warranty deals on offer for taking out a PCP deal ,this is legal and a little advertised fact .

Darryld1    on 22 June 2017

You are one of the few people who writes anything fundamentally useful to potential buyers such as myself. Thanks so much for this information.

Maybe you could have a shot at writing a 'how to comprehend the strategies used by BMW when calculating monthly lease payments, deposits and final values'? It appears to be that what they give with one hand, they take with the other and their bottom line always works out the same. I find it very confusing to know whether or not I'm getting a 'deal' at all or if, as I suspect, it's all sales spin. HJ could provide an online calculator for this purpose.

Roarke    on 2 June 2017

Generally very sound advice, just ensure you read all the slides to get the full picture. Never ever be afraid to walk away from a car or allow yourself to get pressurised. If you're nervous take a friend along. Never accept the "round the block" test drive ever, just head for the open road and see what its really like. If the salesman gets a***y just walk away or go over to another one. Always compare dealers and look around. Don't get confused between high sounding px values and equally high new offering prices -
some of the best deals I've had have shown really silly low PX values, but a great overall deal. And consider the best financing option for your situation - this will be individual to you circumstances and needs and don't worry what Bills mate in the pub said cos his life isn't your life. . I tend to buy and keep til the wheels drop off, like 10+ years, so for me buying low mileage 2-3 year olds cash is always the best way. Always avoid "gap insurance". And always live within your means and anticipate redundancy or other financial possibilities. And the PCP and paying it off early can be the best way to really nail a sound long term deal. And if you can find a tricky to sell car in a not very popular colour you're likely to get an even better deal. I always buy from Ford dealers and have pushed for some phenomenal deals with great results. Sometimes a co-operative dealer will quietly show you his books on the car or the minimum mark up they can afford on that vehicle, so you know you really have got as low as he can go. Finally don't badger the dealer for "free" car mats - they're likely to be poor quality, and sometimes the salesman has to pay for these out of his commission. I knew one dealer who would walk away from a customer who demanded free mats. So go forth and choose- there's a huge choice out there, just find one thats right or you.

amara 520    on 7 August 2017

You should get the V5C logbook the day you pick up the car, which is the legal document specifying that you own the car. 

Wrong!!, the sales invoice shows who is the legal owner, the V5C shows the registered keeper, NOT THEOWNER

DLDLDL    on 31 August 2017

"or do you prefer the warranty-backed assurance of a new car every three-or-so years?"

Most goods either fail early (manufacturing or design fault etc.) or late (wearing out) with a long period of trouble tree use in between. In some markets it is called "the bath-tub curve" (think of a graph of time verses no of breakdowns matching the profile of a bath).

With many cars once you are through the first two years, even the first year (particularly with an established model) your likelihood of a major problem is fairly minimal until you get towards the ten year spot, when some things will need replacing because they are worn out.

The new-car warranty is actually little more than reassuring words that your consumer rights will be respected if you buy a lemon or a "Friday car" (rare now-a-days). Extending a warranty from three years to five just gives you more "cover" along the bottom of the "bath-tub" curve; i.e. little actual benefit to the consumer and minimal cost to the manufacturer.

Swapping when a car gets to three years old means that (with proper servicing) you miss those middle years of what should be cheap relatively trouble free motoring - but you buy into another expensive cycle of early depreciation!

With rust no longer being the problem it once was, there is much to be said for running a car until it gets to the stage where you are worried that reliability is an issue and you will end up with a "fail in use" and suffer the inconvenience of a road-side recovery. (It is not for nothing that many breakdown providers will offer vehicle based cover for cars up to 10 or 12 years old).

A good garage can tell you when components are getting near end of life and it is possible to plan to replace those before a "fail in use". The cost of doing so is considerably less that the depreciation (and financing) cost of a new car!

Edited by DLDLDL on 31/08/2017 at 13:31

saltire69    on 5 September 2017

At what time or month in a year would be the best time to buy a new car ?.

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