Churchill magazine

Know what you want before buying a new car

Updated on: 23 September 2020

buying a car

You would think that deciding on the type of car you want would be easy. That's not always the case.

Lots of people leave their house having decided on a three-door hatchback, only to return from the showroom a few hours later in a 5-door jeep.

Salesmen can be very persuasive and it is all too easy to fall in love with some inappropriate and impractical car when buying from a car dealer or privately.

Will the car fit?

How big is your drive, garage, carport, or even parking space outside your house, or place of work? There is no point buying a car that is going to be too big.

You could take measurements, but even better why not borrow a car with the seller’s permission and take it home, and then you will know for certain.

Will you all fit in the car?

Don’t forget that it isn’t just you who will be using the car.

Dogs, children and other halves must be able to fit in. Always take them with you to the showroom, or when you go and look at a car for sale privately.

Other people’s opinions are crucial to the decision and family harmony for that matter.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Tall, short, fat, thin, we are all different shapes and sizes, and may have different ailments.

If you want to avoid the osteopath’s table, make sure the driver’s seat is supportive. Most importantly ensure that the steering column and seat is adjustable so that you can see out clearly and reach all the controls comfortably without having to sit too far back from, or too close to, the steering wheel.

Can the car cope?

Sounds obvious, but you need to be clear on what you want your next car to do.

Tow a caravan? Then it needs a large engine and should possibly be a four-wheel drive.

Sticking to local journeys and commutes? Then a small hatchback will do.

Got a lifestyle and hobbies to follow up at weekend? Maybe an estate would be good.

Only you will know. There is nothing worse than having the wrong car for the job. A 4 x 4 just for the urban school run is unrealistic and so is a cramped coupe for a family of four.

Petrol or diesel?

This is rapidly becoming the most important and sometimes difficult question to answer.

Diesel is good because the fuel economy is excellent as you go further on a litre compared with petrol.

Diesel engines are mechanically simpler which makes them more reliable and they are becoming more sophisticated and refined especially the latest ‘common rail’ engines.

If your mileage is fairly modest each year (certainly below 10,000 miles), the extra you would pay for a diesel may not be justified. However, if you have a high mileage and are concerned about emissions for taxation purposes then the diesel wins every time.

What about image?

Even though we like to think we’d only buy a car for sensible, practical and financial reasons, actually what the car looks like and the badge on the front says a lot about us and is often a vitally important part of the decision-making process. It is all about credibility and some cars have it, whilst others don’t.

A strong image means a car will hold its value well and be easier to resell. To find out about image, read car magazines to find out what’s 'hip' and what isn’t.

The bottom line is, if you don’t care about image, or future resale value you stand a very good chance of picking up a cheap car.

Whatever car you choose, see how much you can save on your car insurance with Churchill.

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