Your first car is a massive purchase – probably your biggest so far. First up you need to decide between new and used, which isn’t just about how much you’re willing to spend.
“My first car was a [Ford] Fiesta 1.3 Freestyle. It was like the beast of all cars,” says Manchester United and England star Rio Ferdinand. “I had just received a £4,000 signing-on fee from West Ham United, so I went into the showroom and said, ‘I have this amount of money to spend, what can I get?’ The dealer pointed out the car, which was not brand new, and I said, ‘I will have that’.
The big advantage of buying new is that you know the car’s history (there isn’t one! No crashes, no breakdowns, no baggage) and you typically have a three-year guarantee – although some car makers offer five and even seven-year warranties.
By law, if your motor develops a fault in the first six months, it’s generally assumed it was a bit dodgy when you bought it. You can expect free repairs to fix manufacturing faults, for the length of the warranty. If the car is seriously unreliable, you might even get a replacement car – although you’ll have to work hard to get one. But – and this is a big BUT – a new car will depreciate. In other words, as soon as you use it, the car loses value.
The big bonus of buying used is that it’s cheaper. If you know what you’re looking for, you can grab a real bargain – but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up with a right heap that costs a packet in repairs. When buying from a dealer you’ll get some sort of guarantee; if you buy privately there’s nothing to protect you.