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How to be safe and save on your first used car


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When you’re a student with little cash to spare, making expensive mistakes isn’t an option. With that in mind, buying your first used car can be an extremely daunting prospect.

There are loads of helpful tips out there and whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced buyer, you will want to make sure that you’re buying a safe car that’s also good value for money.

Don’t rush!

Take your time when choosing a car. Step back and have a chat over coffee with a friend or family member and they might start asking questions that you hadn’t thought of. This can help you to make up your mind about whether or not to go ahead with the purchase, or it could encourage you to request a second viewing and double check the issues you’d forgotten about the first time around.

Image by Taylor Bailey used under CC license

Dealers and private sellers are also likely to get back in touch if you walk away, and often they’ll come to you with a better deal. So taking your time can not only save you money, but it can also prevent you from buying a car that you’re not 100% sure about.

Think small

Insurance is a huge expense, especially for new drivers. So ignore the bigger options and, instead, hunt down small cars with small engines, as they’re the cheapest to insure. If you’re a new driver, you should also consider a black box insurance policy. A little black box that’s fitted to the dashboard of your car will determine how safely you drive, and depending on the readings, you could save money on your insurance.

Image by Paul Hayday used under CC license

Running costs should also be a consideration. A bigger car is likely to need filling up more often, and spending half of your student loan on petrol isn’t particularly fun. After all, there’s no point scraping together the money to buy an expensive car with a big engine if you won’t be able to afford to run or insure it!

Cars to consider

Ford Fiestas are the UK’s best-selling car for a reason – affordable, good fuel economy, and easy to drive. Fiestas ticks all the boxes. For bargain hunters, be on the lookout for Ford dealers as they offer significant discounts for both new and used cars. Another option to think about is the Renault Clio, which boasts enviable fuel economy as well as low CO2 emissions – a handy addition that will keep your road tax low and reduce your environmental impact.

In general, you want to go for a small hatchback with a small engine size to get the most for your money. And don’t be afraid to haggle! Dealers are always happy to talk prices and private sellers who have had their car on the market for a while will be eager to complete the sale.

Drive safely

So you’ve found your perfect used car and you’re ready to hit the road. You want your insurance to be as low as possible, so you’re being painstakingly careful about braking, parking, checking for hazards and driving at a safe speed.

However, it’s important not to let these good driving practices slip after a few months or years of car ownership. The shine will wear off your used car, but you shouldn’t let that influence the way you approach the road. A recent online campaign, called Time to Stop, has been created to sparkconversation about distracted driving. It seeks to raise awareness of the subsequent risks involved.

This campaign is aimed particularly at people using their phones behind the wheel, which is a hot topic given the recent release of games like Pokémon Go and our general addiction to social media channels such as Facebook. Now that you have a vehicle, why not put your virtual driving skills to the test to see how well you fare against other drivers?

Most importantly, we encourage you to remember to be safe on the roads, no matter how long you’ve been driving!

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