• Andrew Collett

How to choose your perfect car

1. Budget

This is one of your most important considerations when looking for a new car. It’s important to set a budget so you don’t overstretch yourself - don’t forget that unless you pay in cash, most finance deals will be ongoing for a period of 2-4 years, and you must keep up the repayments for the whole duration if you want to keep your car.

There are many different finance options available, so make sure you fully understand the final costs of each. Personal Contract Purchase is likely to have a balloon payment at the end should you want to keep the car, whereas Personal Contract Hire is usually cheaper as you are only paying for the duration of your contract, and don’t have to pay for the car at the end. For more information about whether to buy or lease, see our blog about why you should consider leasing here. Budget should be used in conjunction with the other considerations below

2. Usage

Are you going to need a car with a big boot? Have you got children to consider? The way you use your car will help you determine which car to get. If you have the budget and don’t need the space, a sports car might be on your radar, but if you have multiple children, a family sized SUV may be more suitable. If it’s for business, you might want to look at saloons for that sleek, sophisticated look.

Whichever type you go for, make sure you also consider your future needs. For example, if you are child free currently but plan on starting a family in the next few years, you might want to consider a family car as, if you have any type of finance, there will probably be an early termination fee to come out of your contract early. If you pay in cash, and swap your car early on, you will more than likely lose money from depreciation of your vehicle.

3. Fuel Type

Diesel or petrol, or how about a hybrid or fully electric? Does it really matter? Well, it depends on how you use your car. If you are regularly making long journeys on the motorway, diesel usually works out the most cost-efficient way to drive. If you are making short journeys around town it will make more sense to think about getting a petrol car, as these are often cheaper to buy than diesel and it will cost you less to fill up.

Electric and Hybrid cars are picking up the pace, and their range is getting better all the time. If you live in an area where electric charging points are readily available, or you can install your own, it should be a consideration. An electric car may cost more to buy than its petrol and diesel counterparts, however you will save money on running costs long term and be doing your bit for the environment.

If, however, you don’t live in an area where you can easily charge it and you can’t install one in your own home, don’t consider it just yet as its likely to cause you a headache to keep it running! You can see where the electric charging points are near you here.

4. New or used?

This really depends how you are planning to finance the car and how long you plan to keep it for. If you are paying for it in cash and only plan to keep it for 2-4 years, it makes sense to buy a used car as it’s likely the first owner of the car shouldered most of its depreciation.

If you are planning to finance your car on a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) or Hire Purchase (HP) deal, you will often find that there are much better interest rates offered on new cars than there are on used. This would make your monthly cost cheaper, however make sure you take any balloon payments to pay at the end of PCP deals into account – new car balloon payments are often much higher than used due to the higher purchase price of the car.

Also, new cars are often much more fuel efficient, safer and better for the environment than used.

If you go for a Personal contract hire (PCH) deal, most are offered on new cars, but you can also re-lease used cars. At Lookers Leasing, we offer a selection of nearly new re-lease vehicles which work out cheaper than leasing them new. You can see our latest selection here.

5. Running Costs

It’s not just the initial cost of the car to consider. How about the cost of insurance, maintenance, repairs, tyres, servicing and road tax? That large SUV or sleek sports car might be good value to buy, but the larger or faster a car, the higher insurance group and the more expensive the maintenance is. You should look at the future costs of the car to work out how much more this will add to your monthly outgoings. Some finance deals come with service packages, but make sure you know exactly what’s included so you don’t get a nasty surprise later on!

You can usually find out which insurance group your car is in by using a search like this one from Money Supermarket. You can also find out how much your road tax will be on the gov.uk site.

Leasing a car on a full service lease can help you to manage your budget for running costs as everything except insurance and fuel is included in your monthly lease cost.

6. Test Drive

Once you’ve narrowed your search down, go and have a drive! Nothing will tell you how much you like a car like actually driving it! It’s amazing how different makes/types of car can feel so different in the driving seat. When you get in the car, make sure you ask the sales person how to adjust the seat and driving position – for example, if you’re short and the last person to drive it was very tall, it’s likely that a simple readjustment will change your driving experience. If you still don’t like the drive, you should probably rule it out.

We hope this helps and good luck with finding your perfect car!

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