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What do I need to consider when buying a new car?

Jack Evans, PA Motoring Reporter
·4-min read

Buying a new car is an exciting prospect. Being able to pick out your new mode of transport is something that people don’t get to experience all that often, so when the time does come around to change cars, it’s something which should be enjoyed.

However, it can be a process fraught with difficulties, too. The best thing you can do is prepare your thoughts before you even start browsing new models – and we’ve put together some of the crucial areas you need to investigate before starting your car buying journey.

What’s your budget?

Coins and banknotes
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

It all boils down to money, at the end of the day. Establishing a budget at the very start of your process will mean that there are no disappointments further down the line and ensures that you know exactly where you stand in terms of finances.

Don’t just think about the outright total of the car or monthly finance repayments, either. Consider all of the extras; tax, insurance, fuel and maintenance. Package all of these together and make them into one overarching budget.

What type of driving are you doing?

Drivers survey
File photo dated 26/10/09 of drivers on a motorway. Half of drivers were spending less time on the road than normal even before new lockdown restrictions were announced, a survey suggests.

Establishing what type of driving you’re doing is another great way of focusing down your search. Of course, at the moment the vast majority of people aren’t travelling as far as usual, but think about your usual distances under normal circumstances.

If you’re driving shorter distances, then perhaps a smaller and less powerful car might be a good idea. That said, if you’re often on the motorway then a larger-engined car could prove more useful where it’ll deliver better efficiency.

Petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric?

Plug-in hybrid
A hybrid is at its most efficient with its batteries fully topped up

It used to be the case that you had two main types of powertrains to choose from – petrol or diesel. However now, things have become far more varied. The implementation of electrification processes across the motoring landscape means that hybrids and electric cars are a far more common sight on manufacturers’ line-ups, so this is definitely something to consider.

Again, this boils down to the type of driving you’re doing. If you’re doing the occasional longer journey but with mostly shorter trips, then an efficient petrol could be a good option. For those travelling long distances, then a diesel still makes a lot of sense.

However, don’t dismiss hybrids and electric vehicles off the bat. Hybrids, in particular, take little adapting to and can bring real gains when it comes to fuel savings. A fully electric vehicle is a smart option for those who live in towns in cities, though longer ranges on the latest models mean they’re becoming a better fit for those who travel further afield, too.

How many people do I need to take with me?

How many people you often drive with will dictate what type of car you opt for. A family, for instance, might opt for an estate or SUV which will provide enough space for passengers while delivering plenty of boot room for luggage.

If you mostly drive on your own, then a smaller car could be a better idea. Cars like convertibles and coupes enter the fray here too, as their reduced practicality and space often puts them out of the running for families or larger groups.

What type of activities do I often do?

Skoda Cycle Rack
Think about the types of activities you drive your car to

Though during the current restrictions travelling further distances for exercise is discouraged, during normal circumstances it’s worth thinking about how and why you use your car. Do you cycle, for instance, or engage in sporting activities which require larger items of equipment to be transported in or on the car?

An estate car, with a roof rack, could be a good option here. That said, even smaller cars can be fitted with a variety of load-lugging accessories which will help in this instance.

But how do I even buy a car at the moment?

MGs at a dealership

Though dealerships across the country have been forced to close their doors, there are still ways to buy a new car should you need to. During the first lockdown, dealers have developed improved ways of offering click-and-collect services as well as home deliveries.

Manufacturers have also geared their own websites to offer a completely streamlined buying process, allowing you to spec, finance and order a brand new car entirely online.

As always, check with local guidance and government advice to find out exactly what you’re able to do. Plus, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone – many dealers are working despite their doors being closed and will be happy to field any questions you have.