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On Choosing A Car

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

On Choosing A Car

Tim HillerbyMorgan
22 December 2009

Now that you have passed your driving test, you can think about your own car.

This article will walk you through some of the things to think about when choosing a car.

The first thing to think about is what sort of car do I want?

It is very easy to buy just any car or the same car as everyone else. Why not buy a car that suits your lifestyle? You have worked hard for the right to drive and you are just about to spend a lot of money in one go. Why not take some time to get it right?

Which car will suit me the best?

It can be difficult choosing your first car. This section is a series of questions that will help you decide on the type of car that you want.

Your Driving Instructors car

Did you like the type of car you used for your driving lessons?

Yes - Why not buy one? Some driving schools sell their old cars to previous pupils.

No - Try the next set of questions.


There is a reason that motorcyclists have to work their way up from small bike to large bike. They need to build up their experience before they get on a powerful machine. It is the same with cars - you need to know how to handle an Evo or a Porsche.

Try to get a car about the same power as the one you learnt in. The insurance will be less than the price of the car.


Do you have young children?

Yes - How are you going to get them in or out?

No - Number of doors is not a problem.

Will you carry a lot of junk or a pet?

Yes - Look at the boot space.

No - Boot space is not a problem.

Will it fit my image?

Yes - Are you sure?

No - What sort of image do you want to give out?

Type of driving

Mainly in town? Think small and easy to park.

Mainly on fast roads? Think easy cruising speed.

Mainly on rural roads? Think safe, reliable, good vision.

Lots of miles? Think about diesel and comfort.

Shops and gym? Think about petrol and space.


Size? It does matter. If you are six foot six and 20 stone, will you be comfortable in a small hatch back? Can I park the car easily?

How much can I afford?

Now that you have decided on the type of car that you want it is time to decide on a price range. You need to know how much you can afford to spend.

Work out a budget. Add up all your expenses. Now subtract anything that you really could do without. Take that amount from your regular income. The amount left over is the amount you can afford to spend every month on a car. It is your car budget.

Your car budget has to cover the cost of the car, fuel, insurance and repairs.

Which Car?

That car type and budget sorted. Let's find a car.


It is very important that you find out about a car before you buy it. Try to find out what to look for before you go and buy a car. What are the signs that this is a bad car to buy?

Have a look on the internet and see what other people say. What car, Autotrader and Top Gear all have very honest car reviews. Have a look at the guide prices to see what the car is actually worth.

Where to buy?

Main dealers are best for new and nearly new cars. They can offer good deals, especially at the end of the month.

Franchised dealers tend to carry good quality used cars. They can offer excellent deals.

Local Car dealer tend to have used cars. Make sure they have a good reputation.

Paper - People use papers to sell their cars. Be careful - look out for the same phone number in several adverts or the letter T after an advert. These are people trading in used cars. They may not offer the same value for money as a dealership.

If you buy a car from a newspaper, you need to protect yourself from fraud. Go and see the car at their house. If the seller is reluctant to do this then you have to ask yourself why. Make sure that someone can check the car to see that is in good condition. When you pay for the car meet the person at their house and pay cash. You should insist on the documents there and then.

Internet - Be very careful. Make sure that the company, or person, you are buying from is genuine. Do a lot of research before you buy online. Do they have a contact phone number? Is it a real phone number? Do they have an address? Check it out on Google maps. Is it the sort of area a car dealer will work from? Flash website from a terrace house!!!

Apply the same rules as you would for a car from a newspaper.

Auctions - Only if you have a mechanic or car dealer with you. Ask yourself why are these cars in the auction and not on a garage forecourt?

Test Drive

Do I need a test drive?

Yes. You need at least 20 minutes to make sure that you like the car. Do you feel comfortable in it? Can you handle it? No strange noises or smoke?

The Drivers Ed Company manage the BTEC in Driving Skills. This combines the work of driving instructors, driving schools and learner drivers. The online course runs alongside driving lessons to form a powerful driver training aid. This course will improve pass rates and reduce deaths on the roads. www.driversedcompany.com

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