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What to look for when buying your first used car

What to look for when buying your first used car

You've decided the time is right and you are ready to buy your first car! We know you're unlikely to have ever spent this much money on anything before and may not have much of an idea about what exactly it is you want. But fear not, getting your hands on that dream set of wheels can be incredibly straightforward, as our no-nonsense first-time buyers' guide shows.


Decide what you can pay

Set yourself a sensible budget and stick to it. This might be either a sum of money you can afford to spend in order to buy the car outright or the amount you can pay out each month as part of a finance agreement. Remember to consider extra costs such as tax, insurance and any work that may be needed on the vehicle in the future before parting with your cash. Carbase offer a variety of finance options in order to make buying the car you want affordable to you.


Find out what the insurance will be like

If you're a newly-qualified driver, insurance companies will charge you more for your policy as statistics say you are more likely to have an accident than more-experienced road users. Insurance policy costs also differ depending on what type of car you want to get so before deciding on what car to get it's worth having a look and seeing how much the insurance will be. Websites such as MoneySuperMarket or Compare the Market can do a comparison of many different insurance providers in less than 10 minutes.


Come along and have a look

You'll probably have found the car of your dreams online, but it's still important to come down to take a look to ensure that it is indeed the car for you. There are a few things you can only decide on when seeing the car itself:

  • Is the driving position comfortable for you?
  • If you are tall, is the car big enough?
  • Is the boot sufficient for all that you will want to put in it? If you have a buggy, bring it along and try it out.
  • Can the car comfortably carry passengers if you are going to be joined by others regularly?


A newly qualified driver in her new Carbase car


Two first time drivers in their new Carbase cars


Take it for a spin

When buying a car, the test drive is one of the most important things you will do. Before you set off, do as you would on any other journey and set your mirrors and seat so they are comfortable for you. Don't feel you have to rush - we want you to take your time and really get to know the car you are thinking of buying. During the test drive, try out all the buttons and switches so that you can see what the car can do. Turn on the radio, is the sound as you would want it? It's important that you get a feel for the car. Is this a vehicle you will be comfortable driving, happy to be seen in and does it have all the extras you need?  


Carry out the final checks

If you have a young child, check their car seat fits as some manufacturers use shorter seatbelts that are not compatible with certain makes of child seat. Check the boot is big enough for your needs and that the spare wheel and jack are present.

So, if this is the car for you, our staff will take you through every step of the process to make this car yours as quickly as possible.

Happy motoring from Carbase.


First car FAQs

How much should I spend on my first car?

How much you choose to spend will depend on your own circumstances, but it is worth bearing in mind that buying the car is just the initial payment. Data from GoCompare suggests the average cost of a UK car in 2021/22 was £3.5k, and there are ongoing outgoings to consider too. These include fuel, insurance, tax and repairs, and a higher initial outlay can save money in the long run.

How old should your first car be?

There's no set age you should aim for with your first car, but if you are buying an older car, you should have a trusted mechanic make sure that it is all working smoothly and as it should. A 10-year-old car that's been well-maintained may be in better condition than a newer car that's been thrashed about and not taken care of.

How much will insurance cost on my first car?

Your insurance premium will depend on several factors including your car, claim history and demographics including your age and location. Data from MoneySupermarket shows the average cost of a fully comprehensive insurance plan for new drivers is £1,637 per year, and the average cost of third-party only cover is £2,276 per year.


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