Back to blog home

Fancy a new car? Check out our top tips before you buy

Fancy a new car? Check out our top tips before you buy


For most people, buying a car is the biggest financial decision they will make in their lives apart from buying a home, but it’s easy to make costly mistakes.

However, if you keep in mind some key points when choosing which vehicle to purchase, it should help you come to the right decision:


  • Sort out your finances before visiting a dealer – If you’re hoping to pay via a car finance deal, shop around to see what your options are before you start talking pounds and pence with a sales person. Often the deal the garage or dealership offers you won’t be as good as you can get elsewhere.


  • Timing is of the essence – Many car experts say that the best times to buy are:


  • The end of a quarter – The importance of hitting company quarterly sales targets means you might squeeze more out of a dealer in the last two weeks of a quarter


  • Quieter months – The time of year when people traditionally buy fewer cars, such as December and February, often provides a better chance of getting money off and other incentives.


  • When new models come along – When a new car model is about to hit the forecourts, dealers can be keen to get rid of the older versions fast to clear their inventories.


  • End of the month – At the least, try and hold on to the end of whichever month you’re buying in as, again, sales targets are often monthly as well as quarterly.


  • Save by buying second hand – According to the AA, a brand new car depreciates in value by an average of 40% in the first year. So a car that costs, say, £20,000 new, might only be £12,000 12 months later. That’s a hell of a saving if you wait and buy it second hand.


  • Insurance banding – Don’t just think about the immediate price you’ll be paying. There are other costs to consider too, one being insurance, which can cost a small fortune, depending on the car. Generally speaking, those with smaller engines, which do more miles to the gallon and are cheaper to fix, will cost less to insure.


  • Selling your current car – Many dealers offer part exchange, but it’s estimated that you’ll get around 20% less on average than if you sell privately. On a £10,000 vehicle that’s worth £2,000, although it might be more hassle than it’s worth if the car’s not very valuable.


  • Ask dealers to match offers – Make sure you visit a number of dealers and look online. See if your preferred dealer will match a better offer elsewhere, as they sometimes do.


  • Dealer or private sale? – Buying privately usually costs less than for the same car bought through a dealership. However, bear in mind that your route to compensation if anything going wrong is often way more difficult.


  • Check guarantees – Make sure you fully understand any warrantees on offer with your purchase. Most dealerships offer guarantees if a vehicle breaks down in the first year or two, but watch out for the small print. If nothing is offered, be very suspicious.


  • Use a credit card – Even if you pay just a fraction of the overall sum with a credit card, it means that under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if something goes wrong – such as a dealership going into liquidation – the card provider is equally liable.


  • Sort out insurance before driving away – If you haven’t sorted out insurance, and crash the car on the way home after buying it, you won’t be able to claim.


  • Sales contract – It’s vital you get a written sales contract when you buy. Check it’s got your name and address correctly printed on it, the car’s full details, the agreed price, guarantees (which might be attached separately, but make sure you have them), and any deposit payments already made.


  • Service history – If you’re buying second hand, an important indication of the ‘health’ of the car is its service history. This should show what work has been done and give an indication of how well a vehicle’s been looked after. It’s not failsafe, but if you can see its annual MOT and service history since new, it can be very reassuring.



Policy Expert

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, so we have a team of experts with a real passion for making sure people get the cover that’s right for them. For more information, you can call our experts on 0330 0600 600 or visit for more ways to reach us.


Published 16th September 2019