Tips for buying a new car

Before you buy a new car, get the facts you need. The enthusiastic car salesman will be only too keen to make sure you walk away with his choice of car, not yours. That’s why it’s essential to be prepared: have a clear idea of what you want and know exactly how much you are prepared to spend. Before entering the lion’s den, here are a few recommendations to take on board…

Where do I start?

Your local dealer’s showroom seems probably the most logical place to start. But do some research before you visit and shop around for the best quotes. With a new car you can make yourself aware of the deals on at various outlets. Use the Internet before you look. The Net is a great resource to find out the best price for the car you’re looking for. It will let you know the discounts everyone else is giving and the kind of deals available.

What should I look for in a new car?

Think about things like:

  • Safety
  • Reliability
  • Fuel economy
  • Utility and style
  • Space
  • Cost, and importantly, did you enjoy driving the car during the test drive?

What if I see a car I like?

If you see a car you like, be unspecific with the salesperson in order to get straight to the test drive without committing yourself.

Is a test drive really important?

You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on. So, yes, the test drive is vital. To get the best feel for the car, ensure that you cover a wide range of roads and driving conditions.

What else should I look out for during the test drive?

Make sure you are insured to perform the test drive. Also, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you get in and out of the car easily?
  • Can you adjust the seat and steering wheel/column so you’re comfortable
  • Can you see the instruments clearly and reach the controls easily?
  • Is there good all–round vision without blind spots? (Try reversing into a parking space to check you have good visibility to the rear.)
  • Is the engine quiet and does it pull smoothly?
  • Is the steering responsive (with no vibration or ‘free play’)?
  • Do the brakes give you confidence and can you stop the car in a straight line
  • Can you get the car into all gears smoothly without crunching?
  • Will your children be comfortable in the back of the car? (Take them with you)
  • Do your child seats fit?
  • Is there enough space for shopping bags, luggage, etc.?
  • Can you fold the rear seats easily?
  • Is the boot sill low enough for you to lift heavy items in and out?
  • Will you be able to unload shopping and luggage easily from the back?
  • Is it easy to take out and re–fit removable seats? (Ask the owner’s permission before you do this) After the test drive, make it clear that you won’t buy the car until you are sure this is the model for you.

Should I haggle over the price?

Yes. Try to get the best price you can.

What about depreciation?

Depreciation is at its greatest when a car is new. In fact, 50% can be wiped off the value of a new car within a year of first registration.


When you test drive a new car, make sure the engine’s cold before you start – feel the bonnet. If the car’s warm, the seller could be trying to hide a starting problem.