Buying your first car is a right of passage. It’s a sign to the world that you are ready to take on the open road and are prepared to take on all the responsibilities that come with that commitment.
Not only have you spotted your dream car, but your bank balance doesn’t quite live up to what you were expecting. Fortunately, that’s where financing comes in. It opens up the doors to a broader selection of vehicles, all within your price range. The difference, you pay for it in monthly, manageable instalments.
Here are our top 5 tips to make your time at the dealership smooth sailing:
Know your limits
Before you even think of eyeing up the flashy SUV on the forecourt, you need to know your limits and what you can reasonably afford:
- How much will car insurance set you back – this can be exceptionally pricey for new drivers
- Road tax – is the vehicle exempt?
- Fuel – how far do you expect to travel each week/month? Is an electric vehicle more viable in the long run?
- MOT and general maintenance costs
All of the above then needs to be offset alongside any other regular payments such as rent, utility bills and other direct debits. Now that you have a fuller picture of your current and future outgoings, what does your budget look like?
Do your research
Reputable finance providers are out there – we count ourselves among them! With any new driver, it’s likely you haven’t had time to build up a significant credit score. However, that shouldn’t put you off applying. We offer “bad credit car finance” for those that are either struggling to get on the financing ladder or have accumulated poor credit over the years.
Before applying for any finance, you should only ever borrow within your means. So if you know you can’t make your monthly instalments on time, you may need to adjust how much you borrow to fit in with your lifestyle and spending habits.
Then comes the research. You don’t want to get caught out at the dealership by a pushy salesperson, so know your figures and options before you book your appointment.
Find your car
The odds are, if you have found a reputable finance provider like ourselves, then you will have received a list of some of the best local dealerships in your area.
What’s more, pretty much every dealership around has a well-organised and accessible website for you to browse at your leisure. That way, you get a full scope of what’s on offer, rather than the slim pickings that might greet you on the showroom floor. You can even check out insurance and tax thresholds on each vehicle to make your budgeting even more on point.
We recommend buying a new car, as they offer top of the range safety features (see Euro NCAP for the latest safety ratings), higher reliability and have a clean history record. You are also protected by warranties that offer three years cover as a minimum and often include servicing.
Things to bear in mind at the dealership
Unsurprisingly, salespeople are there to sell you something. So when you enter a dealership, not only are you having a browse, but you are a potential sale. But, the devil is always in the detail.
Ensure you are armed with all the info before you set foot on the salesroom floor because salespeople are renowned for charming you will all the gizmos and shiny trims that can make some cars look far more flashy than they really are.
Make sure to find out about:
- Trim levels and packages – compare specifications across the board for your preferred vehicle
- Check out safety ratings – remember the Euro NCAP above? They will provide you with all the information you could possibly want about what vehicle’s you should avoid and which one’s you should be at the top of your list
- Be armed with the competitive pricing you found online – you might be able to haggle a lower price
Book a test drive
Ready to take your preferred set of wheels for a spin? All good dealerships will have insurance in place to cover you as you drive, so make sure you book in a test drive before you sign on the dotted line.
While you are out and about, check out:
- Performance: how does the car feel when you accelerate? How does it handle corners?
- Try and get the car above 60mph on a dual carriageway or motorway if you can – do the gears move easily? How long does it take to get up to speed?
- Are you comfortable? If no, this isn’t the car for you!
- How easy is it to get in and out?
If you are unhappy with anything, you are entitled to walk away.
Financing a car for the first time is liberating. You get far more options, and over time you will save yourself money in the long run. What will your fresh set of wheels look like?