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Top tips for buying a car

Making sure you get what you want

It’s an exciting time when you’re looking for a new (or used) car. There are lots of different ways you can buy a car, and lots of places to hunt for the right one for you. Whatever car you’re looking for our guide could help you navigate through your journey and avoid any of the common pitfalls of buying a car.

Whether you're searching for your first car or a more up to date model, consider these helpful tips before you buy.

Research takes time but it could save you money
Look online and in showrooms. The more research you do, the better the price you could be able to get.
How much can you afford?
Don't overstretch yourself. The pain of high repayments could linger much longer than the excitement of buying your new car. Always stick to your budget.
Dealership or private purchase?
Buying from a dealership may cost you more but you'll usually have the safety net of a warranty. When you buy privately you could get a better price but if anything goes wrong mechanically you're on your own.
The hidden costs
Once you know the purchase price of the car there's still depreciation, fuel economy, insurance and servicing to think about. Check an online depreciation calculator to make sure you know how much it will really cost to run your car.
Important things to be aware of
Spend time checking the car isn't clocked or cloned, or even a cut-and-shut. You can find great advice online to make sure your dream car doesn't turn into a nightmare.
Smart haggling could save you money
Know the real value of the car you want by visiting a site like glass.co.uk. Keep your cards close to your chest and always be positive. Ask leading questions like, "How much discount can you give me?" Be realistic but make sure you work as hard as you can to get the best price.
What's the real cost of modifications?
Modifications such as non-standard wheels are generally frowned upon by insurance companies. So check the cost of your insurance based on the car's actual specification. Otherwise you could be in for a nasty shock.
Look after the little things too
Locking wheel nuts? A second key for the car? These seemingly little things can end up costing you a lot of time and money, so make sure they're all present and correct before you do a deal.
What could possibly go wrong?
The Honest John website has forums that highlight known problems with particular cars. have a look and see what the potential problems are with the car you like. Ask the dealer if they've checked for these issues.
Paperwork may be boring, but it's really important
Make sure you have the section of the V5C that's meant for the new keeper. It's your proof that you're the new keeper until the full V5C arrives from the DVLA. Make sure you have insurance to cover your new car before you drive away. Points on your licence and a fixed penalty aren't how you want to start life with your new car.
Don't be afraid to walk away
If your gut feeling is that something isn't right, then just walk away. You can always come back later. And remember the perfect car for you is out there waiting.
If it sounds too good to be true...
Then maybe it is! Remember that the salesperson is carrying out their job and their job is to maximise their profit. Make sure you get everything in writing before you sign anything.

Remember to always take a test drive.

A test drive is the only real way to make sure the car performs as it should. Be methodical and check things are in good working order, such as the windows and fan heater.