Choosing the right car for you
Don't let your heart rule your head! Follow our expert advice and we will help choose the right car for you.
Need a new car, but don't know where to start? CarBuyer's simple guide to choosing the right new car will help you!
Choosing a new car is an exciting process, but it's important to remain focused on your budget and your everyday needs when you make your selection. Here we run through the key messages, before looking at specific areas in greater depth.
Your opinion of your current car is really valuable. Use it to steer your choice on where and how to spend your money.
Make a list of all the things you like, about your current car, and all the things you really hate - look for them in the new car you are planning on buying.
Make sure you budget for running costs, and not just the purchase price of the car.
Think hard about the details, including things like overall vehicle size, equipment and the relative practicality and versatility of the interior.
A test drive will help you get a feel for the car's performance and build quality, as well as its comfort.
Do the car's key characteristics meet your expectations? If the answer is no, it's time to start searching again!
How much will the car really cost?
Don't just opt for the cheapest model you can find. Buying a mid-range model with lasting appeal will often prove to be a more cost effective choice.
- You can work out which car in a particular range offers best value for money. Calculate the vehicle's extra costs, including insurance, servicing and your annual fuel bill, and add this to the car's depreciation figure. This will reveal the overall running cost.
- Try not to pick an outlandish colour, instead go for blue, red or silver to maximise re-sale potential.
- Premium cars from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes hold their value better than mass market, or budget models.
- Sporty cars, or cars that feature advanced, unusual technologies can also cost more to run in the long run, both in terms of maintenance and parts and servicing.
Future proofing your purchase
Your needs change over time. It's worth thinking about what you’ll want from your car in the future.
- Think about the length of time you’re likely to own the car. Cars depreciate most quickly in the first year of ownership, so to protect yourself, aim to own the car for three years.
- Are you planning on expanding the family? Getting a new pet? Adding a young driver to the insurance policy? All of these things are worth considering before you actually spend any money.
- Is the fuel supply the car depends on secure? Not long ago, LPG powered cars were tipped as a sound investment, and even backed by government cash grants. It's now very hard to buy LPG, and even harder to sell a car that runs on it.
- There's no substitute for seeing, trying and test driving a new car to help answer the questions above.
Taking a test drive
Plan in advance. If you arrive at a new car showroom unannounced, it's unlikely the car you want to drive will be available.
- Remember weekends are busy times. You are more likely to be given time with the car mid-week.
- Drive the car on as many different roads as possible, from city streets to dual carriageways, and narrower B-roads. This will allow you to get a feel for the car's all-round capability.
- Remember that parking is just as important as driving, and something people often forget to test.
- Try to use as much of the car's everyday equipment – like the lights, boot, folding seats and windows – as possible.
- If you’re trying out more than one car, arrange to drive them on the same day. Test driving rivals together is the best way to expose their strengths and weaknesses.
- If the car is going to be driven by more than one person, take them with you on the test drive.
- Our full guide to taking a test drive offers more detail - as well as practical advice on things like test drive insurance.
How will you use your new car?
Think carefully about kind of driving you’ll be doing. This should have a big impact on the kind of car you buy.
- If you’re travelling long distances then a fuel-efficient diesel engine and a comfortable ride should take priority.
- For a city run-around then look for an easy drive, with lightly weighted pedals, a compact size for easy parking and enough space in the boot for the weekly shop.
- If you regularly carry bulky, heavy items make sure that the load area is easy to access, and covered in hard wearing materials.
- Think carefully about which optional extras you need, air-conditioning is a must in summer, while tinted windows can improve security. Talk to your dealer about your plans.