Looking at Buying Your First Car? Here's What to Look out For

Looking at Buying Your First Car? Here's What to Look out For

I'm a young driver, therefore I know the struggles of not knowing what to look for when looking to buy a car. It can be very confusing. That is why I thought I would write this blog to help you out. There are a few crucial things to look out for that you must know. All will be discussed in the following few paragraphs. First of all, you need to know what body style of car is going to suit your needs best.

Check out our blog about different body styles

Once you know what style you're looking for, you'll probably be searching through popular car buying/leasing websites for makes and models of cars within your budget. A couple of things you need to be careful of is HPI and the vehicle's mileage, especially if you are buying a pre-owned car. If you do not know what these are, stick around and I will explain these.

HPI Checks

An HPI check, also known as hire purchase inspection, will run a check on the car you are looking at, to see if it has ever been recorded as stolen, been badly damaged and written off, has any outstanding finance and also its M.O.T history. This is important as if it had been badly damaged, it may not be as safe to drive anymore, which could also impact on your insurance premiums!


Mileage is the distance the car has covered in its lifetime. In general, older cars have higher mileage due to being around longer, however this will always depend on how much the previous owner's used the car. This means that fairly new cars can have very high mileage and old cars can have low mileage if the owner did not drive it much. This is something to look at when buying your first car because if the vehicle has high mileage, parts are more likely going to need changing when it comes to servicing and M.O.Ts. The upside to finding a car with higher mileage is that these will be cheaper than ones with lower mileage as these have been used more. This will all depend on your budget for your car. Just bear in mind it may be better to get a car with lower mileage as it will most likely save you money on servicing costs, as parts are less likely to need changing!

Take a look at the services Rivervale Approved Used Vehicles offer

Right, now that stuff is out the way, onto what can affect new car sales as well as used cars!

Engine Size

Engine size plays a big part in buying your first car, mainly because insurance costs are going to be very high anyway, let alone with a big engine in a fast car! Anything under 1.5 litres would be recommended. From this, you will get to experience the thrill of driving, without having too much power so that your insurance will be too high. Also, having a more powerful car isn't always the best idea if you aren't very experienced. Another thing to think about is whether you're going to need a diesel car, a petrol car, or a hybrid/electric. All three of these options have advantages and disadvantages. For example, electric vehicles are much cheaper to run, however much more expensive to buy, due to the fact these have not been available that many years. Petrol cars are more common with smaller engines as these are designed for lower mileage. It's just whichever suits you better.

Personally, I like to stick to small nippy hatchbacks. I find that these are fairly cheap to run and insure. These are not very big so you can fit in smaller parking spaces, which is a big bonus! Yet these are not too small that you cannot fit anything in the boot, especially with the back seats folded down. I also prefer the look of these to other body style cars, as I like the smaller, compact, sporty look. That's just my own preference.

What are the running costs of the vehicle?

Cars are unfortunately not cheap and the payments are not over once you've bought a car. This is because there will still be fuel to buy, tax to pay, insurance and maintenance of the car. If you want to keep your motor up and running, you need to remember these all add up. This however may not be too different to your current travelling costs on the train / buses every day to college or work, so you still may end up saving some money! Driving gives you much more freedom than public transport and walking. I've only been driving just over a year and the benefits from it out weigh the costs easily for me!

I'm going to help you work out the running costs of your vehicle with some useful tools and websites. Miles per gallon is fairly simple to understand. It is simply the amount of "miles" your car will travel, "per gallon" of fuel. The higher the better, as that means you will be spending less! If you would like to know a vehicle's MPG (miles per gallon) then check out this website here. If you type in the cars registration plate, then you can find out how far your car will travel on a full tank of fuel by giving you the MPG.

Check your real miles per gallon here

Tax costs

Tax is a fixed price annually or every 6 months. The vehicle has to be taxed if you are going to drive it. Every vehicle falls under a tax bracket. This will depend on the car's engine size and price etc. You can tax your car online using this website. All you need is the green slip or V5 (registration document) to say that you own the vehicle.

You can tax your vehicle here

Maintenance costs

Maintenance is never something you want to stop paying for on your car. It is very important it is serviced often to make sure everything is running okay. This can also mean your warranty is valid for longer. If you have a lease vehicle, you can take out a maintenance contract, meaning that all servicing costs are covered, including tyres! This could save you a lot of money. With used vehicles, if you buy from a well-known dealer, these may come with a warranty, if not then it is important you keep on top of when your services are due. Put a reminder in your phone so you don't forget!

Check the cost of your next service

With all of these things in mind, I hope you buy a great first car and enjoy every mile of it! Don't forget to check out our Rivervale Approved Used site and Rivervale Leasing for our best offers. We can help you find something you're looking for!

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