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Guide to Buying Your First Car
Buying Your First Car | Liberty Insurance Ireland

Buying your first car? Read our guide on 9 things to consider when purchasing your first car & discover ways to save money throughout the process. 

1.    Decide on a price limit. 


When you are buying your new car, the price-tag will probably be a major deciding factor for you. It’s important to have a price limit and stick to it. Avoid a situation where a salesman is dazzling you with his sales pitch and a shinier model. It may be the car of your dreams but stand strong!

2.    Running costs.


When you are working out your budget, it’s important to remember the extra costs that won’t be included in the price tag. Tax and insurance can work out quite expensive, especially if it’s your first time getting insured. Repairs and maintenance are ongoing costs that a new car owner might not expect and didn’t budget for. Also remember if you own an import or older model car that is in need of repair, parts may not be readily available and will have to be imported. 

3.    The right car for you


When deciding on a car it’s important to be specific about your needs. Think about the engine size - do you really need a 1.6 litre? Choosing a smaller engine should greatly reduce your insurance premium. In terms of fuel consumption, think about your journeys, are they short commutes or lengthy road trips? Do you really need a 5-door Passat? Wouldn’t a Yaris be more suitable for your city life and parking? Another important factor is the size of the boot. Will you be able to fit your golf clubs into the boot of that coupé you are thinking of buying?

4.    Buying new


On average, as soon as a new car leaves the lot it loses 11% of its value. So, if you are taking out a loan to buy a brand-new car, you will actually be paying more than it’s worth when you start driving it. However, if you have just won the lotto and will be paying cash, then you probably won’t lose too much sleep over the depreciation of your car. When buying a new car, you assume you will be getting the latest technology and highest standards of safety, but before you purchase double check by visiting Euro NCAP. Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) offers a five-star rating system which gives consumers information on the safety of any make and model of new car.

5.    Buying Second-hand

When you buy a used car, the original owner has already taken the depreciation hit and a car that is 2 - 3 years old can be a wise choice financially. With safety in mind, the NCT tests cars that are over 4 years’ old and this will demonstrate how previous owners looked after the car. The car’s previous life and how it was maintained will influence potential breakdowns and repairs. When looking at second-hand cars, the service history and mileage is a good indicator of the reliability and value of the car. Motor Check is a comprehensive used car database that will tell you the history of the car before you buy it. Mileage tampering and cars that have been in serious accidents must be avoided at all costs. The best advice would be to get a trusted mechanic to inspect it and they will advise if it is value for money.

6.    Dealership or private seller


If you are unsure whether to buy from a dealer or a private seller, it’s a good idea to shop around and ask people for opinions. Maybe someone knows of a reputable dealer that can be trusted. Do some research by visiting car dealerships and browsing websites like Gumtree and DoneDeal to find out average prices and specs available. If you do go with a private seller you may have no comeback if something goes wrong. Don’t agree to meet in a car park or at the side of the road to view a car, insist on going to the seller’s home. Go online and check reviews of dealerships to see if there are any unhappy customers complaining of bad service etc. If you are unsure, walk away. Don’t be forced into a buying a car because the salesperson has spent a lot of time with you. If it’s not the one, there will be others!

7.    Test drive 
Before you decide to buy a car, it’s vital you take it out for a test drive. Firstly, check you’re insured before getting behind the wheel. A quick drive down the road and back won’t be enough time to give you an idea if the car suits you. Take it down a back road so you can experience how it handles winding bumpy roads. How does it feel to you? Is it smooth while shifting gears? Test the clutch and the brakes. Drive it at the speed limit on the motorway to ensure it doesn’t start rattling when you increase the pace. Keep the radio off so that you can hear the sound of the engine clearly. Are there any unsettling noises? Don’t be afraid to ask the owner or salesperson if there were any issues with the car when it was traded in. Ask if there are any major services due. Changing a timing belt would put a large and unwelcome hole in your wallet if you weren’t expecting it. 

8.    Shop around for financing deal


If you don’t have all the money upfront, it’s important to shop around for a loan with reasonable repayment terms. A garage may offer you finance as part of the package but you may get better terms with your bank or local credit union. Your father was right when he said that your credit union account would come in handy some day!

9.    Insurance


In the excitement of sealing the deal, it might slip your mind to organise insurance for driving your new car home. However, if you have been doing your research, you will already have obtained a quote for the car to know your outgoings for the purpose of your budget. You can get a quick car insurance quote online and you will be ready to go, whizzing home in style!