More than three-quarters of all households in the UK own at least one car, according to Statista. In the same survey, 23% of households revealed that they owned two cars, and 7% three or more.
In the course of a discussion on the RAC website, it emerged that the average British car owner bought nine different new or used cars during their lifetime.
The figures strongly suggest that, sooner or later therefore, you are going to be in the business of buying a car. What’s involved and what considerations need to be kept in mind?
- although every one of us probably has a picture of the ideal, dream car in mind, a more important consideration than appearance is going to be the intended and actual use of your car;
- is it really only a vehicle to show off to your friends, or are you more likely to be interested in it as a way of commuting regularly – and reliably – to work, using it for trips to the local shops, needing a vehicle in which to take the kids to school, or want a car in which you can enjoy family holidays;
- the type of car you choose is also going to determine the price you need to pay, together with the costs associated with its upkeep – servicing and maintenance, fuel consumption, insurance and repairs in the event of an accident or breakdown;
New or second hand
- you may adjust the price that needs to be paid, of course, by opting to buy second hand rather than new;
- even in a hand-picked selection of the top 20 cars with best depreciation values, a survey by the Telegraph newspaper found that new cars had retained only between 72% and 55% of their original value after three years – and many fare much worse;
- your choice between new and used, therefore, is likely to depend not just on the depth of your pocket, but also a balance between the warranty and dependability that comes with a car against a less reliable second hand version, and the rate of depreciation from new;
- whether you are buying new or second hand the price of a car is likely to mean your casting around for car finance;
- if you are buying new from a franchise or second hand from a reputable dealer, you may be tempted by the car finance package that is almost certain to be offered the moment you express any interest in buying;
- however, you may have no way of knowing whether the offer represents a good, competitively priced finance deal or whether you might do better by arranging the car finance completely independently – especially since there are specialist car finance brokers able to arrange finance which may then be taken with you to any reputable car dealership of your choice;
When to buy
- with your car finance safely arranged, you are free to go out and make your purchase;
- there may be one final consideration, however, and that is the time of year when you choose to buy;
- publishers of the car guide Parkers, for example, suggest a list of pointers about the best time of year to make your purchase – avoiding, for example, the ever-popular rush to buy one straight after the 1stof March or the 1st of September, when the new registration numbers are released each year.
Buying a car is something you are likely to do many times during your lifetime and each one is likely to represent a significant investment. Keep in mind some of these tips and suggestions, therefore, and you might avoid some potentially expensive misjudgments.