A new study of 1,000 first-time car buyers has revealed that new drivers put a worrying amount of faith in the first cars that they buy. A massive 63 percent don’t carry out relevant checks before taking the plunge.
As many as 70 percent admitted that they didn’t really know what they were looking for when buying their first car. Fifteen percent said they didn’t busy themselves with seeking out service history or old MOT certificates. Four in ten said they didn’t even test-drive before paying out.
What to look for when buying your first car
- MOT and service history
Before you view a car, check its MOT history using the gov.uk MOT history check. It’ll show you everything that’s ever been wrong with the car in the eyes of an MOT tester, including what was wrong with it at the date of the last test.
It’s an invaluable resource that we are lucky to have access to. We’d suggest not even considering a car that doesn’t have a recent pass. Ask for proof of maintenance history, too.
- Smooth running
A little petrol engine should run like a watch. A healthy and stable idle, no warning lights, a smooth sound and no smoke from the exhaust are all things you should look be ticking off.
- Fluid levels
All the fluids have minimum and maximum markers, so check the coolant, oil and brake fluid. If you’re unsure how to check the fluids, bring an in-the-know friend or family member to do the checks.
It’s the enemy of all cars, but one most are familiar with. A little bit is tolerable but do check for excessive tin worm around the wheel arches and on the exhaust. Also check online for make- and model-specific problem areas.
- Straight driving
Take it out for a test drive, get on a straight piece of road and see if the car wants to veer to the left or right. If it does, at best it’s out-of-whack tracking and at worst, the car’s been in an accident and has been poorly repaired. Either way, the car will eat tyres!
- A healthy transmission and brakes
A check of the car’s MOT history should have revealed that there’s life in the brakes but a test drive never hurts. Going through the gears will help you determine the health of the clutch and transmission. Neither are quick or cheap fixes so make sure that you are happy with their health.
- Pay a fair price
Assuming all of the above is good, you might be considering making an offer. What you should have done before even viewing the car, is looking at similar examples and what people are asking for them. Be prepared to haggle even if the price is right. Every penny you save now will be invaluable when feeling the burn of insurance!
Rush to drive
What are first-time buyers paying out? On average we spend around £3,000 on our first car these days. No small change…
That’s a lot of money to spend on something you’re not sure of. As a result, 49 percent of respondents said they regretted their first car buy.
Between April 2018 and March 2019, 578,347 people passed their driving test. If they all got into cars as soon as possible, that would make for an average spend of over £1.7billion on first cars. That’s a lot of money for us to regret spending.
“Our study has revealed a lot of people are jumping straight in and buying a car without doing the necessary research or carrying out the relevant checks and this can create problems down the line,” said Keith Adams, editor of Parkers.co.uk
“Buyers who rush their purchase or don’t carry out the correct checks could end up with a car that has outstanding finance on it, is an insurance write-off, or has technical and safety issues which could put them and others on the road at risk.
“We recommend new drivers buying their first car do their research by reading buying guides, learning car jargon and speaking to friends and family to ensure they get the right car for their needs.”