Buying a Car – Newbie Tips.

Buying a car can be a pretty daunting task, and if you’re a bit clueless then it’s tricky to know where to begin in the world of motoring! I’ve always been quite lucky with cars and finding good deals – my first car was an immaculate Nissan Micra which was found for me by a friend, only one lady owner since new and costing £800, I snapped it up quicker than a bag of Haribo on a half price offer. I had this car for several years and admittedly had a few ‘bumps’ in it. After I got a little bored of my sensible Micra I bought that dreaded Suzuki Grand Vitara and that’s where my car luck ran dry. It was riddled with problems and after 6 months I cut my losses and sold it on, luckily for the price I paid. But not one to regret the past I’ve simply taken the experience as one to remember and carry forward to the future so I don’t make the same mistake again! After this I went back to the ol’ reliable Micra again, but this time an automatic, which was so much fun!! Like driving a little bumper car around… And at one point literally when I was driving back down the A34 from Manchester one evening and the car in front of me decided to randomly stop when people were going 50mph around country lanes… Which was mint. 

Clearly my camera phone at the time was as decrepit as my car.

With it being a second hand car and Micra’s being very common it was easy enough to fix up on the cheap with the aid of the scrap yard. The amount of bargains I’ve had from the scrap yard for both my micra’s is awesome, once I got 4 brand new wheels for £20 and for the blue one I got a bonnet, a light and a bumper for around the same price. Luckily as well, my brother and my dad are a dab hand at spares and repairs so I got it back on the road in no time, but it was a massive eyesore with a red bonnet on a blue car! This was all whilst I was at uni too, so having a cheap run around wasn’t too much of an issue at that point. However, once I got in to the ‘real world’ and bagged a full time job I wanted something newer and less embarrassing ride. 

After a few weeks of messing about taking advice from different people who were recommending cars I simply didn’t want I ended up going to the local Holdcroft garage, which is where my first Micra came from actually, as it turns out the friend who sorted it for me had a husband that worked there. He’d left the company by this point but I still turned to him for additional pointers. The car I chose was well above my budget, but it’s an investment right? So I went for a Fiat Panda on a finance deal. It was a toss up between an older one I loved the colour of, or the newer one which was well, newer. When it boiled down to the finance deal it turned out the price difference spread over 24 months wasn’t too extreme so I went for the newer more expensive model. 

Bear in mind here that I’m writing from a consumer experience not as a money saving pro or anyone who knows much about deals and cars, where some of you may find this helpful I imagine a lot won’t!

So I’d chosen my car and weighed up the pro’s and cons. Now we need to haggle the best deal. When you go to most chains of car dealerships they will have their sales rep on the forecourt who has to run everything by their manager before they offer you the best deal and price. They can usually adapt the deal or finance offer around THREE times before settling on the lowest and best one for you.

If you’re taking your current car in for a part exchange the same rules tend to apply. They start with the lowest price they can offer you for it and depending on condition you can once again get them to change the price around 3 times to a higher offer!

Remember these guys have sales targets – usually monthly ones. Do some digging and find out what dates their sales need to be in by. Go towards the end of this date and they will be easier to haggle down to reach their target. Luckily for me I did this and got it down quite considerably from the initial offer!

NO brainer – the more you can offer in the first transaction the lower your monthly repayments. Do some scraping and get together as much as you can, a few hundred makes a difference.

Don’t be intimidated by the boisterous sales tactics. Remember you’re there to do THEM a favour by buying a car from their dealership. Don’t feel pressured because you’ve had a test drive and they use lazy techniques to make you feel like you’ve got to have THAT car. You can pull out of the deal at any point until you sign the contract.

Don’t buy the car on the first visit. Go back up to 3 times to ‘make sure’. But also don’t leave it too long as if the car is as good as it sounds then someone else will snap it up.

At the same time be aware once again of the sales target deadlines, my friend went in and got an excellent offer – went back to confirm and a different manager was in and the new month had started so she missed out on a great deal.

I also found my car at nearly £1000 cheaper than other ones on the forecourt of the same year and model because after 6 weeks they begin to lower the prices to shift them on. I thought that was a little dodgy at first but when you consider the car trade and how fickle and fast moving the market actually is it makes sense. Some will start listing the clearance cars on eBay so also keep a look out there for local dealerships. 

For more tips and help head to Which? which is an independent advise service. 

What if you’re not buying a car from a dealership?

Take someone who knows about cars with you.

Think you know enough? Make sure you get the jargon right and know what area’s you’re looking at. Autotrader have a good guide to what you’re looking out for when buying a used car.

And always always have a vehicle check done on the car to be sure there is no finance owed or debts on the vehicle. If the previous owner didn’t pay their finance and sold the car on YOU are the one losing your car and it will get repossessed. You can have this done for around £20 independently or the dealership should be doing this for you.

‘Cock and Ball’ shaped cup holder as standard.

Other things once you’ve taken the plunge and bought a car?

Breakdown cover; My breakdown cover is through my bank account. As it covers me and not the vehicle I found it a bit better as I’m often a passenger. It’s not the best deal around, but it’s the most convenient for me, my bank account also comes with mobile phone insurance and other advantages too.

Windscreen Repair; Services like Autoglass or Shatterscreen will often be covered by your car insurance so worth a call, even if you only have a small chip. If you do have a small chip remember in winter to NOT POUR BOILING WATER ON A FROZEN WINDSCREEN. I thought this was obvious, but my friends are a little slow… It does crack across the entire glass!

Tyres; If you’ve seen my Twitter last week you’ll have noticed the tyre tantrum I’ve been having. All I can say is don’t bother with Kwikfit – they wanted £160 for two tyres and my tracking to be done. Head to an independent dealer, and they will usually price match and depending on how nice they’re feeling they can do your tracking for free. I’m getting mine done with local company in Fenton called Tyre Time later on today for £36 a tyre (which are branded).

And if all else fails, ask Twitter:

@Treasure_E_M  If possible take someone who knows about cars with you – they can talk ‘car talk’ + potentially get money off for problems! Also, check the electric windows work – one I saw had a window that rattled in the door because it was off its runners!

@cotton_buddle anything thats sales focused it’s good to go in near the end of the month, discounts aplenty when targets are to be hit 😉

@xPrettyInPinkxx my mom just bought a mini, talk loudly about how you prefer another one and they panic, she got £500 knocked off!

@MissMiyake @Hello_TerriLowe try and go the last couple of days of the month, they have targets to hit so will be more likely to do a better deal.

Have you got any hints or tips? Leave them in the comments below.

Once again, these tips are from my own experience, some people have different ones so also share that if you like! I know a lot of people steer clear of finance so if you have any horror stories or maybe a nice one feel free to share.

Post in association with Shatterscreen.