Buying a car Buying a car
Buying a car is great fun – if you do it right. But before you get caught up in brochures and colour charts, think about what’s really important when buying a car: where to shop and how to pay for your new car.
Making the right choices will save you thousands of pounds.
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Draw up a buying shortlist
First, let’s deal with the fun bit of buying a car. If you don't already know the car you want, begin by drawing up a shortlist. Pick out cars that offer a blend of talents to meet your needs – using the Which? Car reviews to help. Keep an open mind, as your opinion may change after a few test drives.
Drive as many cars as possible from your shortlist before buying, and don't let the dealer fob you off with a 10-minute spin round the block.
Ask to take the car away on your own, to try it on different roads and when loaded up with people or luggage. Some dealers offer 24 to 72-hour test drives to people who are serious about buying a car.
Check car running costs before buying
Don't forget running costs when buying a car. Diesel cars offer better fuel economy but they cost more to buy, as does the fuel, so you may need to cover thousands of miles before you save money. This handy petrol vs diesel calculator will help you decide which is best for you.
Factor in car depreciation, too – buying cheap new cars can be costly in the long run if second-hand demand is poor.
Buying a car: older or disabled drivers
If you are older or disabled, see our sister charity Ricability's report on buying a car that can be adapted or that already meets your particular needs, eg, driving with arthritis, as well as their detailed car measurement factsheets to help you buy a car that is easy to get in and out of.
It's also worth checking out our guide to the motability scheme.