What car should I buy? factors to consider

What car could be right for me?

When you’re looking to buy a car, it’s important to consider what type is right for you. To do this, you need to consider a few key questions.

What do you need?

It’s best to think practically about why you need a car and how you’re going to use it. You can then find a car which best suits your personal needs.

It’s a good idea to think about what the future mayhold: your needs may evolve in a couple of years’ time, for example if you have kids. What your car can do, and what features it has should always be more important than how it looks, and there are many different types of car to choose from.

Here is a list of the questions you should ask yourself:

  • How many seats do you need?
  • What safety features will you need?
  • Do you often drive in conditions that are icy or snowy? Whether you do or not, you may want to choose a car that is designed to safely and efficiently handle this type of weather.
  • Do you have a long daily commute? If so, it is important to choose a car that has good fuel economy, to make sure that you are getting the most out of the money you spend on fuel.
  • Do you have hobbies that need you to transport large gear, e.g. surfing or horse riding? It might be wise to consider a car that has a lot of transport space, or something that can use a trailer.
  • Do you want to buy a petrol or diesel car? Which would be cheaper to run?

What is your budget?

Depending on your budget, you will want to decide whether buying a new or used car will give you the best value for your money. Used cars tend to be cheaper, but come with a higher risk of breakdown or repair costs, whereas new cars will cost more to buy, but repair costs should be low and they are often protected by a manufacturer’s warranty for a set time.

You may have to think about finance so you can borrow money to buy your car. You’ll then need to ask yourself how much can you afford to spend on car repayments each month.

Some people use a benchmark of up to 25% of their monthly pay to assess their own affordability. This might work for some but the important thing is personal circumstances can be very different and will change over time. For example, the affordability of a retired couple with their mortgage paid off is likely to be very different to a young family with lots of bills to pay.

It’s important to work out what is actually affordable for you. Once you have a realistic figure in mind, you can then use our handy car finance calculator to quickly work out what sort of total new or used car value you might be able to afford.

Do you want to lease or finance?

Another financing option to consider is whether you want to buy the car outright, or lease it. Each option has its own pros and cons, so you need to weigh them up carefully to make the best decision.

Leasing

Leasing a car means renting the car from a company and making fixed monthly payments over an agreed term

If you decide to lease a car, you will benefit from being able to afford a better car for less money. Leasing also gives you the ability to trade in your car every few years, with next to, or no hassle, which might appeal to you if you want to keep upgrading to new cars with the latest technology.

The potential downside is that when the lease ends, you will not own the car, and will have to look for a new one. There is also the chance that, depending on your lease deal, you may suffer from mileage penalties if you drive a lot, although some lease agreements do cover everything except fuel.

For information on this subject, head over to Confused.com where they break down the different leasing options.

Finance

Buying your car through finance involves a company (like us!) lending you money to fund your car purchase – this means the company you’re borrowing from legally owns the car to start with. You will then make payments to the finance company until the total amount of money agreed upon has been paid off. Ownership will then transfer to you and you’ll legally own the vehicle.

The biggest advantage if you choose to finance a car is the cost to buy it can be spread over a long period of time, and you will own it once all of the payments have been made.

When you take finance to buy a car, you may need to, and then make monthly repayments, and these amounts can be higher than leasing a vehicle. However, in the long run, you may end up better off if you consider that with finance you will fully own the vehicle at the end of the agreement.

Have you considered any alternatives?

Often we’ve already got a specific, ‘favourite’ car in mind already when we start to think about a new car. However, in the current marketplace, it is really important to fully consider alternatives. There may be other models or manufacturers that you have not considered.

There are many car finder tools available which can help you find a car similar to the one you want, but at a lower cost.

When you have considered all of these questions, you are ready to  make an informed choice on what car to buy and move onto the buying stage.

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