Buying a new car can be a difficult process. There are so many options out there that it can all become a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The most important thing to do is to narrow down your search – there’s no point fawning over Ferraris if you’re looking for an economical family run-around!

We’ve put together a handy guide to help you focus your search on the cars that matter, and to guide you towards the right sort of vehicle whatever your new car buying needs might be.


Okay, this might seem a bit obvious, but it’s easy to only think about the short-term costs associated with buying a car.

When you budget for your new vehicle, you need to take running costs into account. That means thinking about consumable parts such as tyres and general maintenance, fuel costs, insurance and road tax.

Just because you can afford to buy the car there and then doesn’t mean you can afford to keep it on the road, so think ahead. As a general rule, sporty performance cars will cost more to maintain than your average family hatchback.


A great way to get in a car that might seem out of your budget is to get a finance deal. This usually involves putting down a deposit on a car then paying monthly instalments.

There are a few ways to do this. Getting a personal loan from a bank, building society or other lender is a good idea if you don’t have the cash for a deposit, want to keep the car long-term and want to immediately own the car.

A personal contract purchase deal allows you to ‘borrow’ the amount a car will depreciate over the course of the term. You can then either buy the car once the loan is paid back, give it back to the dealer or trade it against a replacement. The down side to this is you won’t own the car unless you buy it at the end of the term.

Hire purchase agreements involve a deposit plus monthly payments to cover the full remaining cost of the car. You will not own the car until the final monthly payment has been paid.

There are a few other options such as contract hire, so check these out to see what works best for you and your financial situation.

Your needs

Okay, so you know how much you’ve got to spend, it’s time to narrow down your search within that budget. Here’s where it’s important to be totally honest with yourself – sure that two-seater convertible might look cool, but if you need something for the school run it’s probably not going to work!

Those with a small, young family would probably be best suited to large saloon or estate cars such as a Ford Focus. However, if you have a few children of school age a people carrier such as the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso will likely be more appropriate.

Then there’s the fuel type to consider. With electric and hybrid options joining the traditional diesel and petrol options, this can again seem a bit overwhelming, but it’s actually quite easy to decide what’s best for you.

If most of your miles are short trips in the city, a smaller petrol hatchback or fully electric vehicle are the best ports of call.

If you make regular excursions out of the city so are concerned about electric range, a hybrid is a great alternative. Opt for a plug-in hybrid and top it up at home every day and you might find you can cruise around town without calling on the petrol engine at all, safe in the knowledge it’s there if you do need it.

If you spend a lot of time in the car covering thousands of miles a year, diesel is probably your best bet. It’s more expensive per litre, but you’ll get much better economy at motorway cruising speeds, so it works out less expensive in the long run.


The basics of road tax are quite simple: The less polluting your car is, the less it’ll cost to tax. However, the rules are changing from April 2017 so that only pure electric vehicle owners get away with not paying anything – and even then it’s not that simple.

All cars will come with a flat rate of £140 road tax per year, except for zero-emission vehicles which are free.

There’s then a ‘first-year rate’ that ranges from nothing for those pure electric or hydrogen vehicles up to £2,000 for cars emitting more than 255g/km of CO2. Most drivers will probably face first-year tax costs of £100 to £200.

On top of that, cars that cost more than £40,000 come with a supplementary fee of £320 for the first five years they’re on the road.

Currently, buyers of low-emission hybrids and petrol-powered city cars pay very little tax, so if you’re looking at these cars for this reason and are looking to buy after April, make sure you check you’re still getting a good deal.

What next?

Now you should have a good idea of what direction your new car buying journey will head, so why not use our car search feature to find your next car? Click here to get searching!

Image via Pictures of Money/Flickr

Darren Cassey


January 6, 2017