There are many purchases that become essential when it comes to having children. It’s amazing how the shopping list expands, and things you hadn’t even considered suddenly enter the fray. But one of the most significant purchases you can make as a young family is that of a new car. Finding something that’s spacious, reliable, economical and, above all, good value for money is no easy thing, particularly when you consider the wider picture.
After all, it isn’t just about the cost price of the car. Running costs, insurance, servicing and depreciation are significant factors, and will use up a considerable amount of your budget. So the key is to get it just right. Many have a preference for buying new cars, with the guarantees and warranties that come with them firmly in mind. Yet while that is understandable, there is still good value to be had in the used-car market too. Whichever route you decide to go down, it’s vital to cover your bases, thus ensuring that the car you eventually choose is the right one for you. Here are some tips to help you get there.
1. Look at the one-year market
The downside to buying new cars, quite simply, is this: they plummet in value as soon as you drive them away for the first time. In fact, new cars lose up to 40 per cent of their value over the first 12 months. Certain brands hold their value better than others, but the bottom line is that you are dramatically slashing your upfront costs if you look within this particular niche – and should still be able to find something in great condition.
2. Pick your moment
Like every sales person, car dealers have targets to meet, and these are usually ascertained on a quarterly basis. That means that if you look to buy a car at the end of March, June, September of December, you’ll likely be catching dealers at a time when they are more eager to shift the cars they have on offer, and, as a result, be more flexible on price. Use this to your advantage, and haggle them down as much as you can.
3. Savvy financing
There are a number of ways to finance a car, including lease, hire purchase or personal contract. Yet often for the sake of convenience, buyers are content with simply buying on the finance deal offered by the dealer; or worse still, lump the cost of it onto their credit card. These effectively amount to a personal loan, but with high interest rates. Considering low-cost alternatives from outside loan providers often makes much more sense, and means you’ll end up paying a lot less in the long run.
4. Don’t blindly part exchange
Again, for the sake of convenience, a car buyer’s default position can often be to simply part-exchange their old car, rather than considering alternatives. Selling a car privately will almost always net you more money. True, it does require a bit more work on your part, but that’s where sites like Autotrader, and even Gumtree come in. A little bit more effort today should mean more pennies in your pocket tomorrow.
5. Play the game
Not everyone enjoys haggling, although some do. Either way, going to a number of different dealerships, and then playing them off against each other on like-for-like (or similar) vehicles is a sure-fire way to bargain them down. In a competitive business such as car sales, they’ll likely be more inclined to knock a bit off the price tag, rather than lose your business.
6. Run through the checklist
You will be drawn to certain cars more than others – perhaps because of style, body, or even just a shiny exterior. But always run through a checklist to ensure that your vehicle in waiting ticks all the right boxes. This checklist should include things like the car documents, quality of overall condition, repairs, engine, radio, lights, tyres, oil, mileage, and, above all, how safe the car is. Get an expert to come along with you if need be, but you should really get as much reassurance as you can on all these factors before shaking on a deal and signing on the dotted line.
7. Use your credit card – wisely!
While using a credit card as a sole means of finance is ill-advised given the high cost of repayments, you shouldn’t shun this piece of plastic entirely from the process. In fact, if you finance so much as a penny toward the cost of your car on credit card (provided the car costs between £100 - £30,000), it will afford you the protection of Section 75. This is a powerful safety net which effectively means that the credit card company – along with the dealer – become liable if things go wrong. As a result, it’s something you’ll want to make the most of in order gain even more peace of mind.
Do you prefer to buy new or second hand cars?
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