Buying your first car is an exciting milestone, especially when you're doing it on your own. It's a big step towards independence and freedom, but it also comes with significant responsibilities.
To help you navigate this journey successfully, we've put together five essential tips for teens who are buying their first car - from someone who’s done it herself!
1. Set a Realistic Budget
One of the first things you'll need to do when buying your first car is to establish a realistic budget. Second-hand cars, depending on the year, can range from around £800 to £3,000.
Take a look around Facebook Marketplace - this will eliminate travel and delivery costs by sourcing cars locally - to see how much you should save.
2. Get the Full Craic First!
There’s more to pay for than just the car! Additional costs include:
- MOT - especially on an older, second-hand car with a short MOT.
- Road Tax/Emissions Tax - early 2000s cars will have higher road tax. My car is an 06 and I paid £244, to give some context. Newer and vintage cars may be exempt.
- Maintenance costs - a second-hand car is likely to come with one or two issues, especially if it’s cheap. Research and consider the cost of maintenance, and search for common issues with your car make and model to preempt any future problems!
- Insurance - this one’s the big one! Certain car models will have cheaper insurance, like this list of Cheapest Cars for Insurance 2023. You may have your eye on a specific make or model, but the insurance may cost more than the car! We’ll talk more about this later in the article…
Don’t be caught out - research and budget for these expenses!
3. Get a Vehicle History Report
When buying a used car, always request a vehicle history report. People are desperate to sell old cars, and could lie in their sales post.
This document can reveal critical information about the car's past, including accidents, title changes, and maintenance records.
It's a crucial step to ensure you're not purchasing a vehicle with a hidden history of problems that could cost you down the road, or (god forbid) a stolen car!
4. See the Car First!
This one may be common sense, but never exchange any money until you have seen and tested the car.
Even minor cosmetic details such as lacquer peel - very common on older red cars - could be disappointing to see when you’ve bought the car, and is very expensive to fix.
5. Shop Around for Insurance
Insurance is a significant expense when owning a car, and rates can vary significantly depending on your age, location, and the type of vehicle you're buying.
Be sure to shop around and get multiple insurance quotes. While it may be tempting to choose the cheapest option, make sure the policy offers the coverage you need to protect yourself and your investment adequately.
Try adding parents or grandparents to your insurance policy - this typically lowers your premium!
Always be honest when giving personal details, as your policy could be cancelled without refund if you’re found to have lied - even if it’s as simple as not declaring a sticker on your car!
Try these sites for the best insurance quotes:
Also consider a black-box policy. This monitors your driving to reduce your premium cost. QuoteMeHappy will give you a driver score every week, and reduce your premium cost at renewal based on this!
Good luck, and stay safe on the roads!