How to choose your first car

How to choose your first car

Our guide to choosing your first car will help you make the right decision

Picking out your first car can be an exciting time. It’s often a car you’ll always remember and look back on fondly. But there’s so many options out there. Are you going for a new or used car? Are there any features you really want or need? Do you have a colour you’ve always wanted for your car? 

It can be easy to get carried away focusing on the areas that aren’t essential. Some of these areas are more nice-to-haves, while others are really important to think about when choosing your first car. As a new driver, there’s even more to think about to make sure you choose the right car that suits your budget and lifestyle. 

1. Budgeting for your car purchase

Most of us don’t have unlimited money available for a car, so we need to think about what we can realistically afford. You can buy a new car, and many dealers often have finance offers that can help you pay off your car monthly if you can afford to budget this way instead of paying outright. 

Alternatively, there’s a lot of decent second-hand cars out there too that can be more affordable. When buying used, it’s even more important to do some extra research. Double check any paperwork, check the mileage is consistent, take a look under the bonnet, make sure the seatbelts are working, etc.

2. A reliable car will take you further

While we can get blinded sometimes by all the flashy cars, they aren’t always the most reliable. Especially as a new driver, you want a car that isn’t likely to break down on you and leave you stranded somewhere. Choosing a car that ranks highly on reliability will give you the peace of mind you need when you’re out on the road – and will likely mean you won’t need to upgrade to a new vehicle for quite some time. Which? is a good source to look at to see the cars rated highly for reliability.

3. The right safety features in your car

Nowadays there’s plenty of handy features fitted in cars to make your life easier and to help keep you safe behind the wheel. The newer the car, the more safety features it’s likely to have. Most recent cars should have front and side airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes. You should also try to find a car with electronic stability control too, as this helps prevent accidents from happening. Other useful features to look out for include a reversing camera, blind spot detection, and lane assist.

4. Keep your insurance premiums lower

Insurance can be higher for new or young drivers, as many insurers see them as having higher levels of risk. While there are many factors taken into account when your insurance premium is set, by picking a car that falls into a lower insurance group number, your premium can become lower. For instance, compact city cars with smaller engine sizes usually fall into insurance groups 1 and 2 – these can include vehicles like the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Micra, or Ford Ka+. 

We always recommend getting an insurance quote for any car you’re considering before you buy it, so you have an idea of how much your insurance will be. One place we suggest looking at is Marmalade who specialise in insurance for new drivers and even offer free insurance when you buy your car through them. 

You can also reduce your insurance premiums further by taking a Pass Plus course to help demonstrate your advanced driving ability. 

5. Take your potential car out for a spin

There’s nothing quite the same as actually getting behind the wheel of a car and testing out how it feels for you out on the road. You should find out first-hand how the car handles and whether the performance is right for you. Try out some high-speed driving to see how the car handles at 60mph. How responsive do the brakes feel? If you’re looking at a manual car, test out the clutch and gear shifts too.

Once you know the basics of what you’re looking for to keep you safe and within budget, then you can look at the extra bonuses too – such as picking out the colour you’ve always dreamed of, or other features like music connectivity. 

Choosing your first car is a big decision and one you should make sure to fully research. Looking at all these areas will help give you the information you need to decide which is the right car for you. 

When you learn to drive with Acclaim, you can also speak to us about advice on choosing your first car too. We can provide unbiased guidance to help you know what to look for and provide some ideas on where to start your search. 

> Contact us to book your lessons with Acclaim Motor School now

Learner drivers and new drivers can enjoy the flexibility of paying for insurance by the mile and earn a £10 voucher* with Pay As You Go Insurance from Marmalade.
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