Recently I’ve purchased a second hand car. Now, having a husband who has been a lorry driver, driving instructor and now a trainee paramedic, I’ve always let him make the decision on whether or not the vehicle was right for us and didn’t realise what an anxiety provoking experience it can be. So, as usual, I thought that the learning I’ve gained from the experience, is something I can share with you and offer a few tips on what to do when looking into buying a car for the first time, for yourself.

1) Speak to your family or friends who have bought their own car, to find out where they bought it from and what type of checks they did. They are the most valuable resource you have. If a car engine is making weird rattling noises or the steering wheel is really shaky- steer well clear. Use common sense and take someone with you who has more experience.

2) Ask your driving instructor for some advice. What should you be looking for or listening to when checking out a car for yourself? Simple things like checking the tred on the tyres, can save you a lot of money on the initial outlay. You don’t want to be replacing them straight away. How long is the MOT? The longer the MOT the better. It gives you breathing space, with all the cost you’ve already laid out on buying yourself, your first car.

3) To find out how much Car Tax you will have to pay, once you have decided on the type and age of car you are thinking of buying, then go online and check out the rates for car tax at Gov.UK.

4) You will pay more for a car when you buy it off a forecourt, from a second hand dealer, than if you buy it from a private seller. For example a 2004 1.6 ford focus will change hand with a dealer in 2016 at around the price of £800 but to buy it from a private seller, it may only cost £400. Do your homework.

5) You can choose a website like GOCOMPARE.com to find out how much a car will cost to insure and what its actual value is. All you’ll need is a registration number and type of car. You can find the type of cars you want with this information online at Gumtree or Ebay. Just start playing around with the information – so you understand what you have to pay for and what the car is actually worth. The insurance on an older car if you are a young, new driver, could be considerably more than the worth of the vehicle, so you need to look at a variety of factors which include the cars age, potential problems which could arise, not just cost, when buying a car.

6) You can do a vehicle history check for peace of mind. Starting around £19.99 with a company like the AA. This will check outstanding car loans, if its been reported as stolen, Vin numbers, or if its an insurance write off.

Check out the process for taxing a car with the DVLA 

Taxing a vehicle as a new keeper

Using a V5C/2 new keeper supplement (green slip)

v5c2

So you know what you need and if you pay by direct debit, be prepared for them to take two month tax money initially.

Remember, that although buying a car for the first time may be anxiety provoking. It can also be really exciting. The first thing you are responsible for, which is entirely yours to take care of. Although there are never any total guarantees when buying a used car, if you educate yourself as much as possible, with what you need to know, you’ve done the best that you can.