If there’s one goal that I have in the next *coughs* 3 years (ie before I turn 45), then it really needs to be to start driving again. I passed my test at 17 but then moving to central London at 21 doesn’t really leave any funds left to run a car and it’s not necessary either so I haven’t driven since!
There are times now though where it would be so handy – being able to take Maddie to different places for a walk, getting my own DIY supplies instead of waiting for Pete to take me and being able to pick him up after a night out.
Pete made the decision a few years ago to switch from owning a car outright to move onto PCP so it means that every 3 years the lease agreement comes to an end and you can either pay off what you owe and take the car outright, or trade it in for the next model. He’s a dab hand when it comes to researching and there are some key factors to think about:
What are you going to be using the car for?
Perhaps the most important question is what you’re looking for in a car. For us, a roomier boot is more important than the ability to carry extra passengers regularly since we have a dog but no children and at some point will likely have 2 dogs. If you have a family though you’ll need something practical with lots of seating space (bye bye sexy two seater convertibles).
There are also features to consider, I’m a heated seat convert and Pete has paid more to have a fancy speaker system. These two things would be non-negotiables for us but might not be so important for someone else.
Key to all of this though is budget – if you can’t afford it, don’t stretch beyond your means.
New or Used?
Generally speaking, you’ll be faced with a decision between a brand new car and one that’s been already used. Of course, in practice, there’s a little bit of a sliding scale to consider, here. Some used cars have seen more action than others.
By going for something nearly new, you’ll avoid much of the depreciation that comes with buying a brand new car, but you’ll still get something that’s in good condition. By the same token, if you buy from an approved used dealership, you’ll get some of the security that comes with buying a new car straight off the production line. We recently traded in our used but in immaculate condition car, for a brand new one that someone had ordered to spec but was no longer in a position to buy, and we got a great deal out of it because the second car market is so in demand at the moment. Don’t forget that even if there are budgeting constraints, you can still consider financing for a used car.
When you’re trying to negotiate a price, it’s important to be firm with the budget. In many cases, this means being prepared to walk away if it’s not a good deal. For maximum leverage, go to buy the car at a time of day or year when the pressure is on the seller to close the deal – just before the numberplates change being a great example and end of months too when targets need to be met.
The test is your opportunity to establish whether you really like the car, and whether it’s in acceptable condition. It will always form part of any transaction and if it doesn’t, either ask for one or consider if you want to do business with the dealer. Have a route planned in advance, which includes a variety of driving conditions. During the drive, pay particular attention to how the car handles and if there is anything that raises a red flag.
Now let’s see if I do actually manage to get back behind the wheel – we really want to do a US road trip but it wouldn’t be fair for Pete to do all the driving so I think I will have to confront my fears and go for it!
Post in collaboration.