Choosing Your First Car

Advice to guide parents and new drivers though the process of finding a first car.

Tradition has it that your first car should be an old rust bucket held together by gaffer tape, picked up for £100 in the classifieds of the local paper. However, while getting a cheap runaround might seem thrifty, and the odd bump while honing your manoeuvring skills won’t hurt the value that much, you need to consider how safe it’ll be. It’s usually better to pay a bit extra for something more reliable, which will save you money in the long run. If you’re buying privately, get a mechanic to check over the car to see if there may be any hidden damage or big repair bills on the horizon. Don’t view the car in the rain or in the dark. Ask about the service history and check for any significant gaps. If the car seems like a total bargain, ask yourself – and the seller - why? You can pay for vehicle history checks online that will confirm if the car is stolen or written off, if there’s outstanding finance or mileage discrepancies.

The AA have a handy guide to help you through the process.

The gov.uk website provides free checks on a vehicle's current tax and MOT status, or look at the MOT history here 

Insurance

When a new driver gets their own insurance, it can often be cheaper to have another named adult on the policy too. However, don’t be tempted to insure the car with a parent as the main driver if they are not. This is called “fronting” and is classed as fraud. If you have a collision, the insurer will establish who uses the car the most. You’ll also be losing out on building up your no-claims bonus.

Telematics

Also known as Black Box insurance, your car will be fitted with a device that measures when and where you drive, and also how well. Your premiums will be based on how safely you drive, rather than a fixed amount. For young drivers facing high premiums, this can mean a significant saving while also encouraging you to think carefully about your driving technique. It’s available from a range of insurers, and is something you could add to your New Driver Pact.

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