Choosing Your First CarThe purchase of your first car is always a stimulating experience but can be quite intimidating.

A helpful guide appears below which will hopefully clear the path towards your purchase with guidance on any pitfalls to avoid.

What’s the best first car to buy?

There are many things to take into account when buying your first car. It is not just the purchase price but also the incidentals, such as – petrol, MOT, insurance, road tax, repairs & servicing.

For an inexperienced driver, it might be wise to consider a smaller car which is both economical & easier to control. A more powerful car will inevitably cost more in both fuel & insurance.

How do I go about buying it?

With a figure in mind it’s time to do your homework. Research reviews to decide on the right make for you. Periodicals such as The Which Car Guide & Parkers, rate & review all makes & models & will give you a guide price & also help you find the right car.

Where should I look for a car?

If you are aiming for a new car, it is normally best to buy from a recognised dealer. You can also buy used cars from a similar source but will normally pay a higher price than through an independent dealer. The former will normally provide a better after-sales service.

As regards private purchases, prices will be lower but you will have no after-sales service & fewer legal rights. The vehicle must be as advertised but other rules do not apply.

What do I do when I find a car?

Always check documentation including vehicle registration certificate (V5C), which shows the registered keeper of a car; MOT certificates (make sure they are annual if the car is more than three years old) & paperwork showing its full service history. An MOT certificate is not a guarantee that a car is roadworthy or safe. It will only show that the car passed its MOT test on a specific day.

Should I test drive the car?

It is of paramount importance that you take a test drive, more so if it is a used vehicle. Please make sure that you are insured to drive it. Ensure that the engine is cold to ascertain whether there are any problems with a cold start. Ensure that the test drive is of adequate time so that you can check brakes & steering & to get a feel for the car. Be prepared to haggle

When should I get insurance?

Once you choose a car & before test driving, check its insurance group to find out the approximate price that you will be paying. If you are happy to buy, shop around for insurance, having paid a deposit for the car so that it is held for you.

Take Pass Plus which is a course designed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) that will boost your driving experience. When you have successfully completed the course, you can get major discounts on insurance offered by companies taking part in the scheme. To find out more about Pass Plus call Surrey Driving Force on 0845 190 2012 or email

How and when do I pay road tax?

Road tax is valid for six or twelve months & the tax disc is displayed on the vehicle. When the tax has run out (check the date on the disc) you need to apply for a new one by filling out a form (V10) at the post office and producing your Vehicle registration document, a valid certificate of insurance and an MOT certificate. With the correct documents you can also renew your car tax on the vehicle licence website.

How and when do I pay my MOT?

A valid MOT certificate is required for all cars over three years old.

An MOT costs approximately £50 for a car which seats up to eight passengers & the certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

When buying a used car from a dealer choose a local company with a good reputation. Also, it’s worth asking family & friends for recommendations.

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