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What would you have wanted to know before buying your first car?

(25 Posts)
Hovis2001 Sat 31-Jan-15 20:24:32

Hello lovely people of Mumsnet,

I will hopefully be buying my first car fairly soon (driving test next week -- so we shall see!) and quite frankly my head is spinning looking at the options. So many variables - age of car, insurance band, to buy from a trader or a private seller, etc! I also feel totally unqualified to even go and try a car out -- I have no idea what I should be looking for in terms of red flag issues, or things that might make a particular vehicle a bargain.

I was wondering whether people on here might be able to provide a few tips - basically, what would you like to have known before you went out and got your first car?

I'd be very grateful for any responses! smile

richthegreatcornholio Sat 31-Jan-15 21:04:12

Take an expert shopping with you! Also remember that you can have a potential purchase inspected by the AA or RAC.

Hovis2001 Sat 31-Jan-15 21:18:53


I fear that the RAC / AA inspections may break the bank on top of all of the other expenses right now! My problem is I don't really have a handy 'expert' to ask - I live hundreds of miles from my family and the vast majority of my good friends are relatively new drivers too.

CountingThePennies Sat 31-Jan-15 21:26:49

When i bought my first car 8 years ago i really wish id paid attention to these details....

Check when the cam belt was changed. They are to be changed at 60,000 miles on the clock.

Check the gears are going into gear properly when driving.

Open the bonnet, is there any tape around any wires?

Check the service history

Check for rust etc

Do a check online were it tells you if the car has ever been in an accident or has any finance outstanding on it.

richthegreatcornholio Sun 01-Feb-15 10:16:33

* when the cam belt was changed. They are to be changed at 60,000 miles on the clock*

Not all cars have cambelts and those that do will have different intervals for replacement. When you're going to look at a car OP, come on here and someone will tell you the cambelt status for that model.

What sort of budget are you looking at? As for not being able to afford an inspection perhaps you could negotiate the cost of this with the seller? If you're looking locally can anyone you know recommend a trusted local garage/mechanic that you could get to give it the once over or perhaps even just MOT it for you? The MOT won't pick up every potential issue but should find any safety related problems.

As for other things that show a well looked after car:

Are all the tyres from a well known brand and either match all round or across the axle - nothing screams corner cutting like 4 different Chinese ditchfinders.

Does it have a big wad of service history - not just stamps in the book but receipts to back that up.

Is the wear in the interior commensurate with the mileage - a car with 60k miles but a worn driver's seat, shiny steering wheel and worn pedals suggests it may have been clocked. Check the MOT history online which should have the mileage records also.

As someone suggested get an HPI check or similar.

Hovis2001 Mon 02-Feb-15 10:14:40


Thanks! I'm probably looking at a budget of between £1000-£3000 (I'd be happy paying up to £3000 but I'd also be happier paying less!). I'm leaning towards buying from a trade seller / franchise even though it seems to me to be slightly more expensive just because I'd appreciate the peace of mind they seem to offer -- or is this me showing my inexperience?

I'm strongly considering a 1.4 Peugeot 207 or 307. I don't want a massive car (not least due to insurance costs!) but having been in a bad accident once as a passenger I'm also a bit leary of the low-insurance group cars with miniature crumple zones...!

I'll be doing a lot of rural driving on my commute.

richthegreatcornholio Mon 02-Feb-15 11:13:30

The problem with spending that kind of money at an independent dealer is that the cars are likely to have been bought in cheaply so maybe you're buying a £1000-1500 car for £2500-3000. Also the sale of goods act offers less protection the cheaper you get. For example, with a £500 car that failed catastrophically after 3 months you would probably not get anywhere due to the car lasting for a reasonable time in comparison to the price paid. I would run as fast as possible from a Peugeot at that price. My money would be going on a Honda Civic or Jazz preferably bought privately from one previous elderly owner with a full service history. I'd spend £2000-2500 and budget £115 for an inspection from National Vehicle Inspections.

Flingingmelon Mon 02-Feb-15 11:27:56

Seconding the advice to get the RAC involved. Bought a car for the same budget last year, they stopped me buying a tarted up piece of crap. Worth every penny smile

Hovis2001 Mon 02-Feb-15 18:09:21

So you'd recommend an RAC check even if using a dealer?

This isn't a sarcastic question, genuinely curious (I am a total ignoramus!) - but why run from the Peugeot? (The ones I'm looking at are around 2006/2007 and I was initially attracted by the nil tax rate on the 307).

Also, am I right in thinking that as a brand new driver (who isn't currently insured on any car) I would only be able to do a test drive in a car being sold by a dealer, and almost certainly wouldn't be able to test drive a car from a private seller? (I know I could get someone else to do a test drive etc, but I'm of a non-average size and don't want to find that the driving position is uncomfortable half an hour into driving a new car off...!)

My impression from having done a lot of scouring of autotrader etc is that car markets are peculiarly localised - lot of Peugeots and Renaults around my area, not a lot of Hondas or VWs, for example. What do people tend to do when buying a car -- choose a model they want and then travel as far as necessary to get it, or just go to the nearest town and try out what's available?

Hovis2001 Mon 02-Feb-15 23:37:48

I think I understand why you said that about the Peugeot now. Out of curiosity I did a search for used cars near where I grew up (some 500 miles further south) and the prices compared to where I live now are remarkably cheap! I guess I live in an expensive area for czar purchasing. confused

richthegreatcornholio Tue 03-Feb-15 08:45:26

The reason for avoiding French cars is that they not exactly known for their reliability, especially once they've reached the age where they're a couple of grand. Good point re the test drive - you can go and test drive some cars of the same model at dealers - you don't have to buy the car! At that price point I would certainly be getting a car inspected that was at a dealer. These are the sorts of cars that a dealer will bodge as the proper repair would be too expensive compared to their profit. Any dealer that refuses an independent inspection has something to hide IMHO. A dealer that has faith in the quality of their stock should be more than welcoming of an inspection.

CountingThePennies Tue 03-Feb-15 10:55:00

I had a renault clio, i think they are french?

Anyway it was a heap of shit!

I love toyotas! Especially the Yaris

Hovis2001 Tue 03-Feb-15 17:23:12

I've found several 02/03 Honda Jazz's nearby for between £1600-£1900, all with less than 100,000 on the clock - does that sound reasonable?

Anyway, driving test to get through tomorrow first of all!

richthegreatcornholio Wed 04-Feb-15 10:11:31

They sound reasonable to me, although maybe you could get a lower mileage one for a few hundred more. Best of luck with your test!

AliceMum09 Wed 04-Feb-15 13:02:01

We have a Peugeot (5008) and have no problems with it, it's an 11 plate so it's almost 4 years old now.

But if I was buying a small second hand car I'd be looking at a Honda or a Toyota. Just for reliability and for the fact that, like someone else said, you're likely to be able to find a decent low-mileage example that has been well looked after by a more mature driver. You don't see many small Peugeots being driven by middle-aged+ drivers, but you do driving a Jazz or a Yaris.

Hovis2001 Wed 04-Feb-15 13:33:26


I think you're right about the likely age bracket for drivers of different cars! Peugeot must have done their advertising / design well because I do certainly feel the pull of their quite 'trendy' looking cars, and also the fact that I recognise them as cars a lot of people I know own. But in all other respects a slightly more restrained vehicle will probably be better (better cared for, lower insurance, etc!)

I passed the test! So the car purchasing thing is really going ahead (to my mild disbelief). grin

nottheOP Wed 04-Feb-15 13:38:01

I would and do lease cars. Look at what car leasing for comparison.

I can't afford big repair bills and with a brand new car you should be fine. A vw up comes in at around £120 a month.

richthegreatcornholio Thu 05-Feb-15 11:20:36

I can't afford big repair bills and with a brand new car you should be fine. A vw up comes in at around £120 a month

This will cost you about £5.5k over the 3 years including tyres & servicing. Something like a £2.5k Jazz is unlikely to cost £1k per year in servicing and repairs and after 3 years you still have a car that is worth something rather than walking away with nothing and having to find another £700 for a deposit on a fresh lease. The flipside of course is that you're driving a brand new car and have a fixed monthly cost for easier budgeting.

nottheOP Thu 05-Feb-15 12:35:49

I know that buying cheap cars outright will usually save you money over the long term but I've never had an old banger and they scare me.

We currently have one car that's 5 years old that we bought with a loan and one car that we lease (actually PCP but not a huge amount of difference IMO). I do get nervous of a big repair bill round the corner even though we get it serviced every year as you're supposed to. DH thinks we should run the loan car into the ground but I want to be confident it won't break down on the way to work or a long journey.

Enough about me anyway but there's a lot to be said for a reliable VW at �120/mt - no tax, new, cheap insurance... reliable! (It's also only 3 months deposit)

Now just to convince DH!

Hovis2001 Thu 05-Feb-15 19:55:00

Thanks for the advice everyone!

I'm going to look at a Honday Jazz (2004, 90,000 on the clock, £1500) on Saturday - only drawback is it's 200 miles from where I live. So it'll be one heck of a first drive but I'm also sanguine about the prospect of having an unscheduled night over somewhere in case it proves overwhelming. (That would make it two drives of 2 hours - which is no more than the length of a driving lesson...)

Anyone here got any opinion on which of the A68 / A1 up towards Edinburgh would be the most user-friendly?!

Charlieboo30 Sat 07-Feb-15 07:46:44

Good luck with the drive, OP! I'm sure you'll be great.

My opinion for what its worth as I've been on both sides. Passed my test and got an older car with plenty of miles on the clock. Never again. Had so much go wrong in the six months I had it and spent so much money it was ridiculous. Promised myself I'd never have that stress again. Now have a brand new car, on a PCP, five year warranty which I will change in 3 years. Can't see me ever doing anything else. £170 quid a month and that includes my service. Won't need to be MOT'd. Some say a waste of money. I say worth every single penny.

Hovis2001 Mon 09-Feb-15 21:30:16

Thanks so much to everyone (especially richthegreatcornholio) for all the advice. I bought the Jazz and it will be being delivered in a couple of days as I thought better of the long journey north... blush

I do appreciate the points about leasing a car / buying a new car, but at this point in our life it seemed like the most affordable decision was a secondhand car, and to choose a make and model that's been shown to be reliable and hope it serves us well for a couple of years. Fingers crossed...!

daniellerj12 Wed 11-Feb-15 18:34:37

last month while reversing i hit a car but no damage was done to my car or her car today i got a letter to say she has maid a claim against me i have pictures of her car to prove that no damage was done just incase of this situation here so one i know saw what happend and said she had my number plate number so i didnt go back to give my details as she had my number plate number

Please help thanks any advice

ScrambledEggAndToast Wed 11-Feb-15 18:42:47

That I was going to be diagnosed with epilepsy 8 months later and would never drive again sob hmmhmm

teddytrom Fri 13-Feb-15 16:38:10

I found this website that you can use to listen to Car Talk:".

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