For some people, the thought of buying a new car is fills them with joy and excitement – for others, it’s a time of worry and uncertainty. Am I getting the right car? Am I paying a fair price? What should I know about monthly payments? Not everyone has someone trusted to guide them.

We’ve broken it down into 3 areas to help you explore the type of car that would suit you, make sure you’re getting a fair price and learn more about car finance. Understanding a little more about these subjects will give you the confidence you need to make sure the car and package you get is exactly right for you.

Which is the right car for me?

Unfortunately, we can’t give you a make and model! Instead, we advise everyone to pose themselves some questions. With the answers, you’ll be able to narrow your choices – and from there, let your personal preferences do the rest! Grab a pen and paper and scribble some notes on the following:

  • What do I plan to use the car for?
  • What type of journeys will I mostly be making? Long distance? Or shorter runs?
  • How many miles will I be doing each year?
  • Do I have any special requirements? I.e. Lots of seats? Space for dogs? Accessibility for disabled passengers?

With these answers, you’re going to be able to talk to some salespeople armed with information about your use. Most salespeople are specially trained to help – rather than pressure you into buying something you don’t need or don’t want. Dealers know that advocating the right car for you is the key to getting your business.

If you’re ever unsure about what a salesperson is suggesting would suit your needs – check somewhere else. It’s easy to identify different car types, so if the first dealer suggests a huge 4×4 – but subsequent dealers tell you a small family car would suit, you can be guided by the majority!

Am I paying a fair price?

If you’re not certain that the price being asked is fair, search online for similar cars. You’re going to need the age of the car, the type of engine it has, the specification level and for pre-owned cars, the miles it has covered. If you’re not sure, ask the person who’s helping you and write it down.

You don’t have to buy elsewhere, just check that the price you’ve been quoted is in line with the price of similar or identical cars elsewhere. There’s sometimes a little variation based on your location, but prices shouldn’t wildly fluctuate. If yours looks high you should ask your salesperson why – if you’d rather not haggle, just take your business elsewhere.

How should you pay?

Understanding finance and different payment methods is often an area in which customers fall short – a full understanding of how you’re going to be spending your money is important, so it pays to be clued up. These are the most common methods:

Cash – Few people buy new cars with cash, but if you can and do the car is yours and there are no repayments to factor into your monthly budget. With the incentives car dealers receive to sell finance packages, cash is no longer the bargaining tool it once was – so if you’re thinking of securing finance prior to car shopping so it appears you have cash, don’t – you can end up with less favourable interest rates compared to what a dealer can offer.

Personal Contract Plan – A ‘PCP’ usually involves paying a deposit and then a fixed monthly amount over a 3 or 4-year term. After that time, you have some options: You can pay the remainder of the price off and own the car, you can get a new car for another deposit and a similar payment – or you can hand the car back and walk away. You’ll be limited to set number of miles and may have to pay additional charges if you exceed these – so calculate carefully.

Hire Purchase – This is ‘traditional’ finance – the price of the car is broken into monthly instalments, interest applied and an agreement put into place. The monthly cost can be greater than a PCP – but at the end of the term you own the car, regardless of the mileage you’ve done or any other car related factor.

If you’re not sure, take time to think

Buying a car is different for everyone. It pays to take all the information you’re given away and consider it carefully against your personal requirements and finances before making a final decision. It’s easy to be led by your heart – but it’s important it makes sense and suits your pocket.