Advice for New Drivers

Before you start looking to buy your first car, it’s worth thinking about exactly what you need before you start looking.

Things to consider

  • How much can I realistically afford?
  • How much will insurance and road tax cost?
  • Do I want an eco-friendly car?
  • How much will I have to spend on petrol?
  • How much will I have to spend on maintenance?
  • Do I really want a powerful car that costs more to insure, service and fill with petrol?
  • Have I researched models and prices in magazines, online and at garage forecourts?
  • What will I be using the car for?

Buying from a car dealer


  • Most reputable dealers are members of trade associations and the bigger franchised dealers may have the best selection of cars and warranties.
  • You can spend your time browsing and can arrange part exchange, finance and even insurance.
  • Covered by The Sale of Goods Act.


  • Could mean higher retail prices.

Buying a car online/privately


  • Gives you access to the widest possible choice of vehicles.
  • Prices often reflect realistic market value.
  • You usually get the opportunity to engage with the owner directly.


  • There can be surprise charges or hidden delivery costs.
  • There’s a higher chance of getting scammed so make sure the seller owns the car, and you check it’s MOT history.

Note: Never make full payment for the car online until you have seen the vehicle and are satisfied with its history. Private sellers often keep service, repair, and MOT records. Ask to see the full V5C or other evidence of provenance. And if in doubt, walk away.

Buying a car at auction


  • Auctions can be cheap but are mainly for traders and experienced buyers.
  • You’ll get all the spec information up front, before you bid.


  • You’ll need to take a friend with vehicle knowledge or a mechanic along with you so you can make an informed decision.
  • There’s no chance to test drive the cars and if you do buy at auction, you must pay the balance and auction fee immediately.