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LC1

I Know Precisely Nothing About Buying A Car...

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Hi,

I like to use the good folk of HPC as sounding boards from time to time, and there does seem to be a broad spectrum of expertise on here!

Basically, I am in my mid 30s but am only just now looking to pass my test and buy a small car. The thing is, I know practically nothing about cars, and the thought of buying one fills me with dread. Not the thought of having a car, of course, but the process of selecting a model, looking for a good deal and finally ending up with one that is in a good state internally and isn't just a polished turd (how would I know?!).

I'll be looking for a budget-end small 5-door hatchback, nearly new without too many miles on the clock (although I don't quite know where the point of best value lies, 2/3/4/5 years old?). Other considerations are reliability, low cost of service/repair and fuel economy.

My other half is talking about VW (Polo, Golf) and Audi (A2), but I'm not particularly loving the thought of paying extra for brand kudos or style, and would much rather look at better value models from the likes of Honda (Jazz?), Nissan (Micra?) or Toyota (Yaris?).

What other models should I be considering?

Are there any good tips for someone with limited knowledge like me to avoid paying over the odds or getting ripped off? I'm not sure that I'd be confident enough to buy via private sale (wouldn't know what to ask or look for and worried no real avenue for recourse if sold a duffer?), but by the same token I would assume that all 2nd hand dealers are likely to spot me a mile off and will do me like a kipper.

Am I right to be worried? What can I do to increase my chances of being a satisfied buyer?

Any tips from resident HPC car aficianados would be most welcome! :)

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Thanks, I should have specified: it won't be doing a lot of mileage. Not bieng used for a daily commute, but rather short city journeys for shopping etc, and weekend day trips of varying distances (but mostly relatively local), especially as the weather improves. Occasional long journeys to see family/friends, possibly also for summer holidays in the UK or the continent etc.

I have no idea what you get for your money really, but would ideally like to spend well under £10k.

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You wont go far wrong with a Honda, the jazz seems like a good first car you'll want to

keep the engine size small if its your first car for a number of reasons.

I have the Honda civic (type R) its 10yrs old and 102k miles, its still like new

and the engines are bulletproof.

Hyundai do the i10 which can be had fairly cheap almost new and is a good

all rounder my mates wife is a driving instructor and she has had one from new

quite a nice car.

Personally i would avoid renault peugeot or citroen etc

& my experiences with vauxhalls has been one of gear selection problems.

VW always a good bet build quality is superb i had the passat very nice car if

a little too big.

2nd hand private i would go with honda only

2nd hand vw car dealer as they can have electrical and sensor probs

(Usually get a 3 month warranty and have soga rights)

Hyundai main dealer brand new and almost new i10 can be had for around

7k and the warranty is very good.

If you dont know alot about mechanics and what to look for take someone with you

to view and i never pay a deposit just say i'll come back tomorow if its still here,

because you can have 2nd thoughts later on.

Always look for matching tyres all round shows car has been looked after

And check the mot cert for advisories and scrutinise the cars service history

A car up to 5yrs old should have full main dealer service history stamped up in the service book

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Thanks workingpoor, some great advice there, just the kind of thing I was hoping for.

Hyundai i10 added to the list....

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Thanks workingpoor, some great advice there, just the kind of thing I was hoping for.

Hyundai i10 added to the list....

Working poor has given you a superb update. Best point of value probably 2.5 - 4 years. Full service history a must but:

1. Try to get something with a 'normal' service interval 10-12k. The longlife stuff 18k is ok for lease cars but too long for any oil change IMHO (and Honest John's in the Telegraph) on that basis a private car where they have done their own interim oil changes a good bet

2. Sub brands of VW - Seat and Skoda same cars give or take a lot cheaper

3. If you can but not always possible see if you can get a car with Chain driven cam not belt saves on service costs

Don't be put off by high milers, you get the car cheaper and a 60000 car that has done cruising motorway miles will be better than a 25k school run/ town driving all day long car

Subject as WP says to service history

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Thanks Greg, much appreciated. Especially the tip about the mileage, I hadn't thought of it like that but, of course, it makes perfect sense.

Skoda Citigo/ VW Up/ Seat Mii added to the list...

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I tend to stick to Jap cars (Toyotas for me) because of their reliability and build quality. I'd go to your local dealer and see what they've got in the sub 3 year old category. And definitely make sure its service history is impeccable.

Personally I'd never buy a new car due to the devaluation...

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When you buy french cars secondhand they've already depreciated (for most people this is the largest cost).

Thanks Buckers. Is this any more than for other brands? Don't all cars depreciate at approximately the same rate, based on their relaitive reliability?

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Thanks Greg, much appreciated. Especially the tip about the mileage, I hadn't thought of it like that but, of course, it makes perfect sense.

Skoda Citigo/ VW Up/ Seat Mii added to the list...

This.

Or if you need a bit more room/power (at a cost) a Polo/Fabia (if more power needed 1.2turbo but relatively expensive)

Skoda were doing 0% finance on a PCP on the Citigo (and you can just buy the car outright after 3 or 4 yrs anyway, with free or fixed cost service for 3 yrs. 0% saves you c. 20% on total cost over 3 or 4 yrs. Makes it cheaper than nearly new.

http://www.skoda.co.uk/models/citigo-5-door/finance-offers

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You're looking to pass your test and this will be your first car. So five things:

- you're probably better off with something cheap and easily repairable. You're likely to dent the damn thing, although you're 30, you're still a learner.

- it needs to be cheap to insure

- you don't need to give a rats ass about handling or any of the car guff because you will be in mental overload just driving the thing

- you probably won't keep it that long, because after a year you will work out what you like in a car.

- you may decide you hate driving and bin the whole idea (you've survived this long...)

So, the best car for you is whatever small car some family member is itching to dispose of but can't bring themselves to scrap. Learners drive Corsas for one reason - they're cheap to acquire, cheap to fix and cheap to insure. Micras are similar, though more expensive to fix.

You can pick up a perfectly good Corsa for £2.5K. You might want to pay a bit more for the surety of a Vauxhall dealer - it's your first car, you have no idea how to spot a bad one. Or ask around family /mates to see if anyone is getting rid.

Use it to learn on, work out what you really like in a car, then spend proper money on that one.

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I always buy from Motorpoint, no complaints they only do nearly new (less than a year old) at about 70% of the new price. Other motor supermarkets such as availablecar.com appear more expensive.

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You're looking to pass your test and this will be your first car. So five things:

- you're probably better off with something cheap and easily repairable. You're likely to dent the damn thing, although you're 30, you're still a learner.

- it needs to be cheap to insure

- you don't need to give a rats ass about handling or any of the car guff because you will be in mental overload just driving the thing

- you probably won't keep it that long, because after a year you will work out what you like in a car.

- you may decide you hate driving and bin the whole idea (you've survived this long...)

So, the best car for you is whatever small car some family member is itching to dispose of but can't bring themselves to scrap. Learners drive Corsas for one reason - they're cheap to acquire, cheap to fix and cheap to insure. Micras are similar, though more expensive to fix.

You can pick up a perfectly good Corsa for £2.5K. You might want to pay a bit more for the surety of a Vauxhall dealer - it's your first car, you have no idea how to spot a bad one. Or ask around family /mates to see if anyone is getting rid.

Use it to learn on, work out what you really like in a car, then spend proper money on that one.

+1

i meant to add that most peoples first car takes a battering (i know mine did)

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Thanks Greg, much appreciated. Especially the tip about the mileage, I hadn't thought of it like that but, of course, it makes perfect sense.

Skoda Citigo/ VW Up/ Seat Mii added to the list...

I was in the same situation as you a couple of years ago - buying a car for the first time (mid 40s) after being a Streetcar/Zipcar member for some years.

I bought new (SEAT Mii) - I specifically wanted an Up/Mii/Citigo and there weren't many second hand ones floating around back then. Also I didn't want the added hassle of buying second hand, Depreciation is not an issue for me as I plan to run the thing into the ground. Finally the offer of free insurance for the first year swung it as I hadn't built up any no-claims bonus. I could also get the exact spec I wanted (added city brake assist which in theory prevents low speed shunts in town).

I drive very cautiously and (fingers crossed) no bumps or dings so far. If you shell out the best part of £10k for something, you will take care of it.

I am delighted with the car - essentially a VW Up without the badge and posh interior. But it has more toys (sat nav, parking beepers, 6 speakers) than a similarly priced Up. Great round town and fine on longer journeys as well. And mpg always in the 50s.

I don't think I will ever shake off the novelty of having a car at my disposal - one benefit of waiting so long before taking the plunge. Whatever you go for, enjoy!

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i meant to add that most peoples first car takes a battering (i know mine did)

Yes. I'm one of the few people I know who didn't manage to crash within the first year of buying a car. And I came pretty close a couple of times...

Heck, one of my friends crashed their first car on the test drive before they bought it.

So I'd suggest getting something old that won't upset you too much if it's written off, and replacing it in a couple of years. Even the ten-year-old sports cars I was buying in the 90s were pretty reliable if properly maintained, so I'd expect a modern small hatchback would be more so.

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I'm definitely with rxe, don't spend too much on first car. 3K should get you a decent runabout. As mileage not high another reason for going for a slightly older car with some mileage on it. Compared to the past difficult to really go that wrong in the small car sector - so much competition and high reliability generally, any of the japanese brands worth a look (yes, Yaris is good) and would only steer clear of the smart car tbh.

When you buy though, take someone with you that does know cars, take friend/relative or even mechanic / have inspection done. My first newish car I went to auction with a mechnaic, paid for his day out and he got the work servicing - great car that lasted another 100K miles.

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On the Corsa front my nephew's 1,2 blew the head gasket. I think the hope was I might throw a new car his way come birthday time but I replaced the gasket one weekend with him 'assisting'. My recollection is, I had to go off-piste from Haynes almost immediately, and it was a pretty involved job even as head gaskets go and would probably write the car off in labour if you had to get a garage to do it.

On that basis I'm really not sure about the 17 year old's cheap run around type car strategy for someone starting out much older. Even if you've got a friend or relative who could work on it, it'll still be off the road.

I think Korean with a long warranty is the way to go and although it's HPC heresy some of the PCP or finance deals as RK says do make sense if you just want a fixed cost for motoring.

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I'm one of many who crashed a few weeks after passing my test, it's very easily done. Even with a few decades experience I've still had the occasional hairy moment, especially in busy city traffic.

I'd agree with the Yaris or Jazz suggestion. I'd suggest steel wheels rather than alloys, much cheaper to replace if you hit a kerb or pot-hole. Most modern cars should be reliable but considering that these days they're a collection of proprietary computers on wheels, I'd stick to Japanese. I wouldn't go for the smallest petrol engine either.

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Buying a secondhand car is ultimately a lottery. My brother bought a 6 year old Ford C-Max with only about 30k on it a year ago, last week, not even 15k later, the auto gearbox ate itself. Meanwhile my Mondeo V6 that I bought with 120k on the clock for £1600 has only ever cost me a £70 coil pack and basic service items.

To be honest if you are not going to be relying on the car for commuting I'd just buy a 6-10 year old banger as your first car, along with an AA/RAC/Blue Flag membership (whoever offers the best deal). As rxe rightly points out you'll still be a new driver with an increased risk of having an accident of some description, and so insurance for an old but respectable car ought to be a lot cheaper than for a £10k one.

Something like a previous gen Ford Fiesta 1.25 petrol would be ideal.

http://www.autotrader.co.uk/search/used/cars/ford/fiesta/postcode/sw35ej/radius/1500/onesearchad/used%2Cnearlynew%2Cnew/fuel-type/petrol/maximum-age/up_to_10_years_old/engine-size-cars/1l_to_1-3l/quicksearch/true

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Whatever MrPin says, do not buy a V8 or a Cadillac.

If you know nothing about cars, I have a Ford Mondeo with a dusting of rust on the sills that I am desperate to unload would be happy to sell to you.

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Whatever MrPin says, do not buy a V8 or a Cadillac.

If you know nothing about cars, I have a Ford Mondeo with a dusting of rust on the sills that I am desperate to unload would be happy to sell to you.

Would I ever make such a silly suggestion? MrPin recommends an old Toyota Camry, or Corolla! Cheap as chips and hard to burst. Make sure it's not made in France, like the Aygo. The Toyotas are not very glamourous, but they are well made. Skodas are good too. Avoid anything with a giant spoiler, has been a Glasgow mini-cab, or looks like it was maintained in India

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Thanks Buckers. Is this any more than for other brands? Don't all cars depreciate at approximately the same rate, based on their relaitive reliability desirability?

Fixed that for you! Reliable mundane Jap metal depreciates horrendously

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A Seat Leon or an Alfa Mito.. Seats are as good build quality as a VW (same company), and the Mito is the cheaper alternative to a Fiat 500..

If buying second-hand, look for, preferably a full service history.

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