Whether you’re buying it for yourself or perhaps your newly-licensed teenage kid who’s looking to get out of the house and gain some independence (which sounds great to you - you can have a free house from time to time), picking a car can seem like the most important decision of your life. It’s crucial that you take a deep breath now and realise that it’s not quite such an intimidating or life-threatening decision as you’re allowing it to be.
Of course, that’s all well to say, but perhaps you’re thinking that it’s different when you’re in the moment and you’re faced with hundreds of different cars and hundreds of different deals for specific car. Sometimes it can be hard to know what you want out of a car, never mind what your teenage kid, your partner or even your family member may want - if you’re buying for somebody else. If this is the case and you’re starting to pull your hair out, then here are some great pieces of advice for the confused who are looking for a step-by-step guide to a confident and smart car purchase.
Think about money.
Don’t panic. I know this has most likely been the thing which has given you the biggest headache throughout this whole process, but it doesn’t have to. Costs can be managed if you plan ahead. First and foremost, you have to decide on an upper price limit for the car you’re going to buy, whatever model you may eventually settle upon. You’ll find that you worry about the cost aspect of the car purchase far less once you’ve decided upon this, because you’ll know that you won’t end up spending beyond your means.
It’s important to decide on an upper limit that you’d pay for the car upfront, because there will be many variable costs once the car is in your possession or the possession of your child. You need to think about insurance, which will be considerably higher for first time buyers, and you need to assume that tax and petrol will all vary depending on the specific car on which you decide. If you keep your upfront cost low, you’ll be better prepared for the regular costs you’ll face when you’ve actually bought the car. You don’t want to blow all your money, only to find that yearly insurance and other costs put you in debt.
Decide on the car.
This is obviously the most important part, but, when money has been considered, all that matters is your intended purpose for the vehicle. If it’s a first car, then a young and fresh-faced driver will most likely be better off with a tame, small vehicle, such as Ford Fiesta, perhaps. Of course, if you’re buying a car as a gift for a partner or simply a more experienced driver, you might want to go the extra mile and look into a brand new Alfa Romeo for that special someone. An expensive purchase isn’t always a bad purchase if the car in question is more economical than cheaper alternatives. If a car costs you less in the long run, it’s worth an initially pricier upfront purchase.
Of course, remembering the previous point, you should simply ensure that all costs fall within your means. If you know you have a certain amount of disposable income each month, you should ensure petrol, tax and insurance costs won’t exceed that.
Take it for a test drive.
The best way to get a feel of whether a car is for you, or the person for whom you’re buying, is to take it for a test drive. Perhaps the gift could even be that you take your loved one or friend to the car dealership and surprise them with the test drive itself. It doesn’t have to ruin the surprise if you package it correctly; that way, you’ll be able to tell whether they approve of the car. Either way, it’s an important way of seeing whether the car is right. No marketing gimmicks - just intuition.