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Born to Drive: Buying Your First Car

Turning 17 is an exciting event and, for many young people (and their parents!) it offers the first glimpse of freedom as driving becomes a very real possibility. Someone may have fantasised about their first car for years, but the reality is that there are lots of things to consider beyond colour and make. Read on for tips for finding the right car for you.

What features do you need?

4 or 5 passengers? 3 or 5 doors? Do you need a big boot to accommodate pets or equipment linked to a hobby? Do you need/want a hatchback, saloon, estate or SUV? It is unlikely that you will need or want a bigger car, like an estate or SUV, both of which make good family cars but not ideal first cars.

What about engine size?

The engine size determines how much power your vehicle will have. Generally, smaller engines are less powerful and therefore cheaper to insure.

Do you have space to keep your vehicle on a driveway or in a garage?

Where you store your vehicle will also influence your insurance so if you are lucky enough to have a driveway or garage that you can park on, it is worth checking for size so that you can make sure your car fits.

Petrol or diesel?

Different engine types have different positives. Diesel vehicles tend to be better for longer journeys – but they are usually more expensive, too. For smaller run-arounds and first cars, petrol is probably the best choice.

Does the insurance group matter?

The insurance group contributes to the amount that you will pay on your insurance. There are 50 groups in total, with 1 being the cheapest to insure and 50 being the most expensive. Groups one cars include Fiat Panda, Hyundai i10 and the Kia Rio. Group 50 cars include the Alpha Romeo Stelvio SUV, Jaguar XE and Lotus Evora; insurance for Group 50 is on average more than twice as much as the insurance for a Group 1 vehicle.

What are the running costs?

Buying a car is just the beginning! Additional costs include tax, insurance, maintenance and, of course, fuel. Car tax depends on the size of the engine and, in the case of more expensive cars, their value. Electric vehicles are tax-free but smaller vehicles, such as a Ford Ka, cost as little as £30 a year. Look at the mpg (miles per gallon) which will give you an idea of how economical the vehicle is. An online car costs calculator can help you to budget for your car and avoid nasty surprises.

Private or commercial sales?

Buying a vehicle privately is undoubtedly cheaper, but comes with greater risk. Unless you have a close friend or family member who is a mechanic, it may be worth looking at local car dealerships, as vehicles will come with some form of warranty.

Buying a new car is always exciting, but buying your first car is a rite of passage! Don’t rush into anything, do your research, and ask your local garage for advice. For more tips, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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