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Buying a new car – top tips

New research has revealed how long buyers spend researching their new car compared to choosing how to pay for it.

According to Swedish challenger Ikano Bank, one in five of us spend more than a month researching our new car and a third of us take up to a month.

However, almost one in three of us spend less than 15 minutes working out how we’re going to finance it. As a result, we’re wasting hundreds of pounds.

In fact, in the last three years more than a million car buyers have paid an extra £514 on borrowed money for their car because they didn’t research the best deal with the lowest interest rates.

“For many people buying a car is a big deal, second only to our houses in terms of money spent,” says money doctor Fergus Muirhead.

“We may or may not have a specific make, model, age in mind when we start looking so a lot of research is required when it comes to actually finding a car and making the purchase.

“But when it comes to how to pay for it we don’t spend enough time doing our homework, and we lose hundreds of pounds as a result. So before you even start researching your next car, spend some decent time working out what you can afford and the best way to pay for it.”

Fergus’s top tips for buying a new car

Is the car reliable?
You’ve decided on the make and model of your dream car, but can you be sure it’s reliable? Check how many miles it’s done, how old it is and read owner reviews to check it’s not going to fall apart within a few months.

Is the seller trustworthy?
Whether buying from a garage or a private seller, make sure you know they’re trustworthy. If you’re buying from a garage make sure you’ve read other customers’ reviews of them. You can often tell from a phone call how pushy they are. If you get there and the car is not as it has been advertised, don’t trust the seller, even if they’re willing to drop the price. Who’s to say you are not going to find
more faults once you’ve handed your money over. A trustworthy garage will include a decent period (3 months or more) warranty.

When is its MOT due?
You’ve found your perfect car. It’s the right age, the right make and model, the right mileage on the clock, the right colour… but wait, its MOT is due at the end of the month. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not going to pass its MOT or that the MOT is even going to be costly, but do you really want to risk it? And do you really want to pay for a car and then for its MOT a few weeks later? If you’re 100% sure about the car, speak to the seller and ask if the MOT can be included as part of the sale, that way you have peace of mind that you’re not going to be hit with more costs in a few weeks.

Shop around for insurance
Use comparison sites like Comparethemarket and Moneysupermarket to look for the best deals for your chosen car – but don’t make the mistake of thinking the cheapest option is the best option. Make sure that the option you choose includes everything you need. Sometimes a slightly more expensive policy will include valuable options for a few pounds more.

Do get breakdown cover (but shop around)
Do you really want to be stuck on the side of a motorway with no guaranteed recovery? In the long run it could cost you more not to have breakdown cover, so shop around for the best deals and get covered.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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