Buying Your First Car: What Should You be Looking For?

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When you’re heading out onto the road for the first time, your car-buying priorities may be vastly different from those of an experienced motorist. With no experience upon which to base your decision, you’ll have to rely on general rules of thumb to determine what will make your time on the road more enjoyable.

Most new drivers look to the second-hand market when they’re looking for a first car. This helps to limit costs and avoid the pain of short-term depreciation. So, what exactly should you be looking for when shopping for the first car in this market?


The number of miles that a car has done will provide a very rough picture of its history and provide an indication of its value. Of course, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all; in many cases, you’d rather own a car that’s been driven a long distance cautiously than a short one recklessly.

MOT History

A clearer picture of the car’s condition might be gleaned from its MOT history. You can look this up via the government website. If the mileage doesn’t match the records, then you should be suspicious.


Smaller cars tend to be more forgiving for new drivers, especially those who aren’t yet used to reverse parking on a regular basis. Additional features like rear parking sensors may make life easier, but not having to rely on them will probably make you a better driver in the long-term. Smaller models like the Vauxhall Corsa tend to be preferred to larger ones like the Astra, though some first-time drivers might actually need the extra space.

Test Drive and Visual Inspection

There’s no substitute for examining the car in the flesh. Check that wipers, lights, washers, and seat belts are all working, and inspect the exterior for signs of damage that might affect the car’s value.

You should also ask to take the vehicle for a test drive. If you encounter any resistance here, it’s a sign that the owner of the vehicle has something to hide. Test the clutch, the brakes, and pay attention to see whether the wheel is vibrating excessively.


For new drivers, the cost of insurance will be greater. This is especially so if you’re still a teenager, as this age group is statistically more prone to being in collisions. Look for a car that’ll limit your insurance premium. Generally, this means less power and greater reliability – which might mean going for something nearly-new rather than something ancient and creaking.

This post was last modified on June 30, 2020 12:30 PM

Categories: Auto