Seven things to do when you buy a new car

Here are our tips to help you seal the right deal on that new set of wheels...

1. Find the spec to suit you

Before you do anything, spend some time working out exactly what you want from your new car. Make a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves, so you know what’s non-negotiable when it comes to choosing your new model.

You’re likely to own your new car for at least three years, so plan ahead. Five doors and boot space might be a nice-to-have for now, but may become an essential if you’re planning a family in the next few years. It’s also worth thinking about who else might get a set of keys. If your newly qualified son or daughter is expecting a spot on your car insurance then you’ll need to think about how things such as the make, model and engine size may impact the premium.

2. Choose your fuel

Petrol engines are often cheaper to buy up front, but a diesel engine could be more economical to run if you regularly travel long distances. You could also consider a hybrid or electric car. While the upfront cost of these cars may be higher, they’re usually a hit with the tax man, and are generally cheaper to run than petrol or diesel cars. They can also be better for the environment.

3. Set your budget and plan how you’ll pay

The cost of a car isn’t just its sale price, so make sure you’ve taken other expenses into account when working out your budget, including vehicle tax, car insurance , fuel costs and any optional extras you might be tempted by, such as an extended warranty. Remember that the new rules brought in last year mean that vehicle tax can no longer be transferred from one vehicle to another - so you’ll have to arrange and pay for this before you’re legally able to get behind the wheel.

There’s usually a variety of payment options open to you. Many car dealerships will be happy to discuss spreading the payments over a number of months, but be sure to check out other options such as a personal bank loan before committing to anything.

4. Shop around

Before setting foot on the polished floors of the showroom, do your research. Websites such as and are a great source of information - you can look at the pros and cons of different cars, and compare features and price. It’s also a good idea to look at online brokers to understand what they’re offering in terms of discounts and added extras.

5. Get the most from your test drive

Don’t underestimate the importance of a test drive. Plan your route and time properly so you get to test the car in a range of situations you’re likely to face on a daily basis. Try to take the car through its full range of gears and ask questions about the different features.

Some dealerships will offer you the opportunity to have an extended test drive, so don’t be afraid to ask about this. Taking family or a friend along for a second opinion can help. If passenger seats are cramped or uncomfortable they’ll be the first to let you know!

6. Negotiate to get a better deal

There’s no doubt that negotiating can be intimidating, but approach it properly and you could get a much better deal. It may sound simple, but being polite and friendly will get you off on the right foot with the dealer.

Be careful not to show your hand too early. If the dealer knows your budget, they’re unlikely to negotiate below that. Stick to your guns and don’t be tempted to overspend. You can walk away at any time, so don’t be pressured into a hasty decision.

7. Get the right price for your current car

Part exchanging your current car can be a convenient option, but before agreeing to a deal, make sure you know the value of your car. Tools such as the Money Advice Service Cost Calculator will help you to get a fairly accurate estimate. A dealership is likely to offer you a lower price in order to make money from selling it on so, if you have time, it may be worth selling the car privately.

Find out more about Car Insurance from Swinton

  • Car Insurance - Car insurance made clear and simple, with three comprehensive cover options for you to choose from
  • Young Drivers - Young driver or newly qualified?

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