Monday 15 October 2018

The ultimate guide to buying your first car!

Almost 2 years ago I passed my driving test at the age of 25. It took me a little longer than expected with a total of 3 different driving instructors and 8 years between my first ever lesson and passing, but I finally did it! It’s a great feeling once you pass and you get that little certificate, but what happens after? Well, you’re going to need to get a motor to drive of course!

New cars vs secondhand cars

Now first things first, as tempting as it is to go all out and get a brand new Mercedes for your first set of wheels, your bank account will thank you for getting a pre-loved car. Since new cars depreciate the second you drive it off the lot (a whopping 11% based on a study in 2017), you get more bang for your buck if you play it safe with a used car (besides, who needs the stress of having a pristine car for the first time you drive on a motorway?!)

3 door or 5 door car?

If you’re wondering who on earth would design a car with two front doors and 1 backseat passenger door then, well, same. A 3 door car refers to two front doors and a boot-opening, 5 door is 2 front doors, 2 back passenger doors and a boot-opening. Now we’ve cleared that up, you’ll want to find a car which ticks your boxes. Do you need a 3 door or 5? Will you be driving people around, do you have kids, will you be using it for moving house in the future? If so, a 5 door will be very handy. I was deciding between a 3 and 5 door car and I opted for the 5 door in the end, definitely something I’m grateful for now! But if you’re after a sporty style then you’re more likely to get that with a 3 door, and they can be a little cheaper.

Automatic vs manual cars

If you took the full driving test (not just automatic) then do you want a manual car or an automatic? Each have their pros and cons - automatics will do a lot of the hard work for you, and stop you from the dreaded stalling in rush hour panic. However, manual cars are generally a little bit cheaper, they’ve also been known to save drivers 5%-15% on their fuel costs because manual transmission engines weigh less and have more gears than automatics. Also, if you go straight into driving an automatic after passing, you will probably get very comfortable and reliant on that style, so when the day comes that you want to change cars and you find out your dream wagon is a manual, you may struggle getting into the swing of it again.

Petrol Vs diesel?!

While electric is the future with new petrol and diesel cars being banned in 2040, you’ve still got a few years left of regular trips to the gas station and working out which place has the best prices. Generally diesel is more expensive, however, they are more efficient and are well suited for someone who is going to be using the motorway and traveling long distances. Petrol engines tend to be slightly quieter than diesel, they also produce less dangerous emissions such as nitrogen (they do produce more cO2 emissions though). Petrol cars are usually a little cheaper as well, although diesel cars are thought to be better value in the long run, it can take between 6 and 11 years to recoup the extra cost.


Another thing to consider when buying a secondhand car is the mileage it has accumulated. A high mileage shouldn’t put you off, but you should do your research on that car model and any mileage related issues. For example, some brands may start to have major issues after they have done 90,000 miles, but other cars may be fine for another 50,000. Also, it’s a good idea to find out the service history (any credible dealer will share this information with you) - if you are comparing two identical cars but one has done 70,000 miles and the other has done 80,000, you may immediately think that the car with fewer miles is better - but that might not be the case. If the car in question commonly has issues at 75,000 miles, and the car which has done 80,000 miles has just had its engine replaced then you’re actually probably better getting the second car since it has been through the problematic time and has been seen to. The car I bought had already done 120,000 miles... and guess what? I’ve done a further 20,000 and it’s been good as gold (touch wood).


It can be super overwhelming choosing what car to go for and you may have found the car of your dreams, but will it actually make your driving experience enjoyable or have you foreseen some key things which will make your driving time a little more easier. Is it important for the car to have a CD player? Or does it have an aux Jack so you can listen to music through your phone? Does it have Bluetooth? Do you have central locking? Are the windows electric? Does it have cruise control? These things might not be so important to you at the time of buying, but if you’re planning on racking up those miles then you need to think about the long term use. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere without music playing, or without being able to open and close all the windows when needed. My car also has cruise control which was a huge bonus as your feet can get very tired if you’re regularly going up and down the M4.

I’m no car expert, but these are things which I considered when buying my first car. If you’re clueless (like I was) then heading down to your local dealer to discuss your needs will really help shine some light on options which are suitable to you. KAP motors stock a variety of brands such as Fiat, Ford, Peugeot and Nissan and they have lots of useful info on their website, so have a browse to find your perfect pre-loved car today!

I hope you enjoyed this article, I’d love to know if you’re about to get your first car, or what your first car was!

*this post is a collaboration, but all opinions are my own*

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