Buying and Insuring Your First Car

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Guide for key things to bear in mind when buying and insuring your first car

First off – What’s your budget?

How much do you have to spend on your car as well as your monthly budget to cover the running costs of the car? As well as petrol or diesel, the running costs will also include tolls, road tax, NCT and maintenance. Perhaps you have finance already arranged with your local credit union or bank. If so, great. If not, perhaps a Car Dealership can help you with this or even arrange finance on your behalf.

New or used? Watch out for depreciation

Your budget will probably determine whether you are buying a new or a used car. New cars do not hold their value well – for your first car, you may well be better off buying a one or a two-year-old car.

Insurance? Check before you buy

Beware of buying an old banger as these can be very difficult to insure. We advise that you put your details into our Car Insurance Calculator. Once your details are input, you will have a reference number emailed to you and it will be quick and easy to determine the cost of insurance for each car you are considering. Just look up the vehicle by its registration number and recalculate the quote. It’s that simple!

Research online. Buy face to face

You’re probably looking at cars for sale online as well as through Car Dealerships. If you’re buying through a dealership, you’ll be covered by all consumer protection laws in the country. That may not be the case if you are buying a car from a private individual. If you’re buying at a car auction, don’t feel pressurised into bidding on a car unless you have at least taken it for a quick test drive. Check out whether the car is covered by a warranty and if this warranty includes parts, labour or both. Also, check the duration of the warranty.

If you are buying from an individual, as opposed to a Dealer, it might be worth getting a Vehicle History Check- from the likes of This will give you a true and fair valuation, and prove that the car has never been stolen, imported, clocked, written off or cloned.

Tax and NCT in date?

When buying a used car, have a look at the NCT disc. It could be out of date. If so, suggest that the seller gets it through the NCT before you close the sale. Have a look too at the tax disc – perhaps it has a few months to run which would be in your favour.

Keeping your running costs under control

As well as fuel, these costs will also include car tax, tolls, maintenance and of course insurance. Pay particular attention to the engine size. It could well influence the cost of car tax, fuel consumption, service, maintenance and tyres- let alone insurance.

The trick here is to be disciplined in finding deals available- typically for parts and labour. Don’t automatically take the first quote you get. Service the car, look after it and change your tyres when due. It makes a heap of sense to do this, because:

  • It keeps you on the road with minimal stress and worry
  • You avoid sudden and unforeseen bigger emergency repair bills
  • You'll get a better price for the car when the time comes to sell it.