How to Choose a Car When You Know Nothing About Cars

Posted by Ben Davidson about 1 years ago

Most people need a car to get around but not everyone can be a motorhead! Choosing a car when you don’t know much about cars can be really daunting. There are plenty of salespeople who are willing to take advantage of your lack of knowledge and going into an unfamiliar setting is scary enough.


There are so many different makes and models of car and, though you might know which color you prefer, there is a lot more to get to know. So, what should you do if you know nothing about cars?

Know What Your Wants and Needs Are

Whether you are shopping for a used car or you want to find a new car, you should always know exactly what your priorities are. This doesn’t mean that you need to know which car you want, it just means that you should have a list of necessities.


In the most practical sense, your main priority is to find a car that will get you safely from A to B. Of course, this means different things to different people according to what you want to use the car for. If you are planning to drive in the city a lot, a smaller car would be easier to maneuver whereas a car with a larger engine would be better for driving long distances.


It’s important to distinguish between wants and needs here. If you are a tall person and need space for your long legs, finding a car you fit into is a need. On the other hand, a cool media center is a want - it’s not necessary for you to be able to drive the car but it would make you happy. Understanding the difference between wants and needs is the start of your journey and you should write two lists to include all of them.


A family car is a great example of where wants and needs are likely to collide. There are all kinds of features to look for in a family car and some may come as a surprise. Taking your kids along to a viewing might sound like a bad move but actually, you need to see that you can get them in and out easily and they will be able to see out while you drive. You should also practice getting the car seat in and out while you are there if you already own one.

Work Out Your Budget

When you know what you want and need from a car, you should then take a look at your budget. Your budget should include a few things such as the cost of the car itself, how much the insurance will cost and what the fuel consumption is, in other words, how much fuel you will have to buy each week or month.


There are also a few unexpected costs you should bear in mind. For example, you may find a fault in your car that needs repairing or you could have an accident. Wear and tear is another cost you need to factor in. While we might call these unexpected costs, a better term might be unlucky costs. You should make sure that you have enough in your savings to deal with any unexpected issues but getting a good insurance plan is always recommended.


When you don’t know much about cars, working out what is good value for money and what is too good to be true can be a bit fuzzy. Estimating the value of a car is quite difficult, especially when even the color can impact the price. However, using a car value estimator is a good way to get a ballpark figure you can rely on. Check a couple of sites to see what the variance might be to get a clearer impression of the market.

Ask for Advice and Do Your Research

The best advice anyone can ever give you is to go and do your research. Asking friends and family how their cars drive and whether they would recommend a particular model is a great place to start. If you are a newly qualified driver, your instructor will also be a good source of knowledge and will be able to advise you on the sort of cars past pupils have gone for.


When you are doing your research, make sure you keep an open mind. Though you might have your eye on a particular model, do look around and see if there are any similar cars that might be able to offer you more for your money. Similarly, you should consider the benefits of buying new, used or leasing a car to see where you can get the most for your money.


Before you buy any car, you should always ask to test drive the vehicle. This is vital as you need to know whether you are suited to a particular model. Going back to the driver with long legs - you won’t find out how uncomfortable a car is until you try to squeeze in it! When you are test driving, it’s a good idea to mimic your regular driving habits. For example, if you are planning to use the car to commute, you might find a similar route.


Another good tip is to ask a trusted car mechanic to take a look at cars with you. In fact, some car mechanics are happy to take your list of wants and budget and source cars for you so that all you need to do is point at the one you want and you’re sorted! Taking a mechanic might sound like you’re going overboard but if there’s one person who can spot a fault or an issue that may cost you further down the line, it’s someone who mends cars all day.


Buying a car when you know nothing about cars is all about educating yourself and knowing what you really want. There is no reason that you can’t do this by yourself as long as you take time over your research and ask lots of questions along the way.


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