Guide to Buying your Next Car

New or Used??

The first question that needs to be answered is Should I buy a brand new car or a used car? The chances are however this will be the biggest purchase you do after buying a home and your budget may determine this for you.

There is all sorts of benefits of buying a new car such as being the very 1st owner and the immaculate paintwork and new car smell not to mention the Manufacturers Warranty. You will also get to put your perfect specification to your perfect car which is a lovely thought too! Obviously it comes with a cost as most new cars are going to loose some value immediately and this can differentiate between brands and models. However it is worth noting that some cars have been known to go up especially with the challenges of the motor industry through the pandemic with parts for new cars.

The next option is a used car which again has some major benefits as they will be cheaper than the new car as most will have taken that big hit of initial depreciation. The biggest problem is there are so many different websites and dealers out there as well as the private market to consider.

But I think most people find buying cars very daunting and can create unwanted stress and anxiousness. So I will try and give you some top tips on buying your next car.

Some people will be thinking how can Russ answer these questions?? Well I spent 15 years in the retail environment and offered fantastic service when selling cars to the public. I think you can really make a customers car buying journey a great experience and I am confident I changed people perspective along the way. 

Considerations When buying your next car:

  • Budget is probably the top of this list. Not just on the cost of the car whether that be a monthly payment or cost price but have you considered running costs and insurance?
  • Is there any particular feature you want or have on your current car that you can’t live without?
  • Obviously the government is telling us to go Electric! Is that simmering you ahem considered or do you want to stick with a petrol or diesel car. You could also consider going half way with a Hybrid or Plug-in Hybrid. There is obviously big benefits with the electric side of things but is the infrastructure there for you to carry out your driving needs? If you are doing less than 12000 miles a year the general rule would be diesel may not be for you as the benefits won’t be there. Also if you do a lot of short trips then avoid a car with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) as they need to go on longer runs more often as they self clean under engine heat.  
  •  What is the car used for? Do you need space for the kids or a big bot for all the stuff you carry in the car? Maybe its for fun at the weekends and you want a sports car!!

So once you find the car or a shortlist of models wether it be an SUV or a small hatchback, diesel or petrol, hybrid or electric, the next question is where to look?

Blue Nissan People Carrier In Countryside
Side View Of Black Ford

Manufacture Dealership

The obvious place to start especially if you’re buying new would be the main dealers. They also offer a ‘Approved” used car which gives manufacture benefits usually things like a longer manufacture warranty. The great thing about the main dealers is there is plenty of models to look at and try out. You can generally get an extended test drive on most models too and you get a nice fancy showroom to do it in. Generally they are owned by large dealer groups that have a lot of choice of used cars at other sites around the UK so the choice is usually quite good too.

However this does come at a cost. In my experience you will generally pay more than an independent dealer will charge for all the nice benefits. You have to make up your mind if you like the piece of mind of buying from a manufactures garage and spending that little bit more money. 

All main dealer will offer competitive rates of finance to purchase a car and generally will have a business manager to take you through the process. If you want peace of mind then this is probably the place to go!

Leasing a New Car

The other option of getting a new car would be a lease from a leasing company. Now this option has definitely grown over the last few years as it us super convenient as it can all be done form your home on your computer and delivered to your door!!  Yes it is that simple as you can go in a search engine for this and find your perfect new car or place an order for a specific car and once ready its generally delivered to your door. The tax is generally covered in the cost too. This is a great way if you know your general usage as you have to specify a mileage per year buy be careful as you are charged a pence per mile if you go over at the end of the agreement but if you have monthly budget and it fits then this could be the option for you.

Please take into consideration though that if you enter one of these agreements they are expensive to terminate early. You are tied to the agreement for the full term so if your circumstances change it can be an issue terminating the contact and in some cases you would have to pay the remaining contact.

Independent Dealers

For me this is where I spent most of my time selling cars. I worked along side my dad in the family business so I feel I understand it well. This is the area I feel people are unsure and more careful when purchasing a car from an Independent. Unfortunately I do think you have to be careful as I think it is just as important to buy your next car from a good company as well as getting the right cast for you. Most Independent car dealer do the job right but unfortunately there is a few bad eggs out there.

It’s important to do checks on the dealer as well as the car. I’m a big believer in reviews and this is a great place to start as there are lots of review sites out there as well as review on the selling platform like Autotrader. So find the used car you would like then set out to understand the dealer you are buying from as you can do this without even getting in touch with them Once your happy with your initial checks make contact and make a decision on how you are treated and the gut feeling you get form the dealer. As I said before most independent are great and really go above and beyond for the customer but I do think you get a get feeling on these things and if your unsure no matter how good the car seems really consider wether you want o buy from the company as you may need help once you own the vehicle. 

That leads me on to the warranties offered which again I think is important. Things like is it nationwide cover and what is the claims limit? What does the warranty actually cover to? How long does it last for?

For me if you find a good independent dealer you will get great service as we as a better price then the main dealers so this is a definite consideration.

Buying Private

This is will more than likely be the cheapest way into a used car but obviously the most risky. There is lots of places to find used cars online now and buying private is definitely the most challenging. The 1st thing to do when buying a used car is run a check on the car through one of the online services like MotorCheck, Experian or HPI. This will let you know if the car has been in an accident has finance outstanding as well as many other things. Ive have heard many horror stories over the years as people have not done a check on the car. 

Once this is done is really about speaking to the seller and checking as much on the car as possible. Things like MOT History is now available on the website and checking the VIN numbers match on documentation and the car. Bodywork needs to be checked too which can be challenging if you don’t know what you are looking for so If a friend or family member can come as another set of eyes is always great. Don’t forget when you drive the car away there is no warranty so you own it. 


This is a great way of saving money when buying a car and could be a great route to take. But buying from auctions isn’t always straight forward. As much as an auction will do their due diligence when updating their catalog with cars its always best to do your own checks . Things like a history check on one of the leading websites like HPI or Explain. This is to ensure nothing is missed. Also a MOT History Check on the website is important as I feel you can tell a lot by the MOT history as it give you an indication of how well cared for a car is by the lack or number of advisories or failures on old MOT’s.

When buying from an auction always consider the fees you will be charged by the auction house. These can often be very high especially when you are a private buyer and don’t forget these cars don’t come with a warranty so if its out of Manufactures warranty then there is always a chance the seller has put it in the auction as there is something wrong with it. So the question is how do you try and not buy one of these cars?? Well, look at the sellers details. Who has actually put the car in the auction?? This will give you a good idea as if it is a leasing company it will generally have finished its lease and they are disposing of the car. Auctions are definitely an option but if you are unsure on car conditions and mechanics this may not be the place to buy.

Types of Finance

So you have decided on the car and the place you are buying from but do you know how you’re paying for it?

This is a great question which changes person to person. The vast majority of cars purchased in the UK are now financed and put it to monthly budgets with all other monthly outgoings. You can obviously pay cash if you have the funds available but gone are the days that ‘Cash is King’. The majority of dealers like to have finance when a car is purchased at there is generally fiancé targets for them to hit as well as a commission. To be collected from the finance company s in theory you could get a better deal when financing through the dealer directly. In fact I’m confident to say this would more than likely get you the best deal!! 

However other options may get you a better rate like a personal loan and this is normally the cheapest way of borrowing money subject to your credit score meeting the lenders criteria. But not many people realise that a person loan does take up a lending stream so if you wanted a personal loan to use for something else in addition to one you already have for a car this may go against you as you already have loan in place where as borrowing through Hire Purchase (HP) indicates to a lender that the loan is for a car and there is a asset attached to it. 

So as mentioned above your do have HP (Hire Purchase) as an option generally obtained through a lender or a finance broker online. Personal Contact Purchase or PCP also fall under this umbrella but I would advise going to the dealer before using a third party broker as the broker usually demand a few from you as well as the dealer. 

If you are using any finance the thing to keep your eye on is the ‘Total Amount Payable’ as this is the total amount including all deposits, payments and final payments. Minus this figure from the price of the car and it gives you all the charges that you will pay. Sometimes we concentrate on a monthly payment rather than the bigger picture and this could make it hard for you to sell your car at a later date as your finance settlement is higher than you expect. 

Running Costs

We generally all want as much car as possible for the money we have and why not if you’re a car fan like me then I love driving nice cars around. However running costs are something people often leave to after it’s too late and their new car is already on the drive!!

Calculator and Pen on Balance Sheet
MOT Checks on vehicle

Things to consider before signing on the dotted line!!

Insurance – Have you been online and checked the cost. Always quote at least a few days into the future. I always find this makes it a little cheaper


VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) is something you more than likely won’t see as its included the new car price from the main dealer and you the pay a flat rate of £155 for petrol and diesel cars and £145 hybrids and plug in hybrids. Electric and Hydrogen cars are completely free. This new way of car taxation came in to force in April 2017 so if the car was registered before that point it will fall into the old tax system which is taken from the CO2 emissions to pay for RFL (Road Fund Licence). 

Also worth taking into consideration is if the car costs over £40’000 at new then there is a surcharge of £325 which needs to be paid for 5 years before returning to the flat rates mentioned earlier. Obviously  the zero emission cars are still free!!

Test Drive

One of the most important thing about buying a new car is make sure you drive it!! It is obviously important to make sure the car feels right for you. Does it do everything you want it too from how the engine pulls to the gear changes. Does it feel comfy and are the seats right? The problem with most test-drives is they can be very short and lets be honest, we do know really if a car is going to be comfy on a long drive until you gave actually done one. If you are going for a new or nearly new car then dealer can generally lend you a car for a longer period of time usually a few hours as a minimum. However if you are buying a used car it’s generally very short so may be best to push the sales person for a longer test drive. 

The best thing to do is take your time when looking round it and then also on the drive. Have a good listen for any bangs or knock and make sure there is no lights illuminated on the dashboard that should be there. Ask yourselves the question, does the engine sound ok? Does the gearbox change gear properly? Is there any noises that don’t sound correct?


So once you have found the car yo want its time to haggle!! When buying a new car this can be a little easier depending on the brand. Some dealers will be more open to a ‘deal’ than other and some will have set deals already available. 

Used cars can be a little trickier as the market is so open for all to see many dealer fight to be the most competitive priced vehicles on the internet which usually means the price will be fixed when you ask the questions. However you should always ask as I was always told ‘If you don’t ask you don’t get!!’