From make and model to cost and condition, finding the perfect set of wheels is time-consuming.

To help get you started, we’ve put together five top tips for getting the right car for your needs.

1. Know your deal breakers

Boot space, gadgets, fuel efficiency or even colour – what do you really want?

Websites such as What Car?, Parkers and Glass’s Guide enable you to check what options and specifications are available on different makes and models, as well as how much you should be paying.

Make a list of whether certain features are necessary, important or desired, and then research online to see which boxes are ticked. This will give you an idea of how much you might need to spend, and whether you are best looking at buying new or used to meet your needs.

2. Consider all the costs

Fuel, MOT, servicing and road tax… running a car doesn’t come cheap.

Consider the ongoing costs associated with a new or used car, as well as the initial purchase price. While a new car will often cost more to buy, it could work out cheaper overall thanks to better fuel efficiency and lower running costs.

Bear in mind that petrol and diesel engines have different implications for fuel-efficiency. And don’t forget the cost of a parking permit if you live in an area which requires one!

3. Where to buy?

Once you’ve found the car you want and know how much you’re willing to pay, you’ll need to think about visiting a dealership or private seller.

While a private seller could be slightly cheaper for used cars, dealerships can provide peace of mind as you’ll have more protection under the Sale of Goods Act.

If you opt for a private purchase, a vehicle history check can give you peace of mind as it will show if the car has been stolen, clocked, has any outstanding finance, or even written off.  There are a few sites to check this on, such as the HPI check. Some sites may incur a small charge to undertake a check.

4. Don’t forget about condition and depreciation

It’s often said that a new car loses value as soon as you drive it off the forecourt – so does it make more sense to buy second hand?

It all depends on what you’re looking for. There are a huge number of things that affect a car’s depreciation. A new car will be in top condition with no need for an MOT for its first three years, which is a definite bonus for your immediate finances. However, a used car won’t suffer from such a serious depreciation if it’s only a few years old.

Keep in mind the influx of new cars into dealerships at the release of the new registration plates, as there are fantastic bargains to be bagged on the slightly older stock, especially if you have the money in your pocket ready to strike a deal. For a list of the pros and cons of buying a new or used vehicle, check out our new, used or nearly new car guide.

5. Investigate your finance options

With so many finance options available for buying a car, you would be forgiven for feeling a little confused.

A personal loan could be a simpler option for both new and used car purchases, as you will have bargaining power as a cash buyer, and the security of knowing that you own the car outright from the start.

In any case, don’t be in a rush to splash your cash – always leave yourself enough time to be able to walk away.

We’re committed to working with members, local organisations,
and employers to increase financial awareness in the wider community.

For more hints and tips check out our Financial Wellbeing Hub,
which includes articles and guides covering everything from budgeting to getting onto the property ladder.

If you have any questions or would like help with any of our services, please contact us on 0141 274 9933.