The Complete Car Buying Guide

This is the definitive guide to buying a car in the UK.

Most of the time, buying a car is a massive investment, regardless of if you’re getting a car new from a manufacturer or if you’re getting a used car from a dealership. Not only can buying a car be a considerable expense, but it can also be a tough and challenging process, especially if you’re buying a car for the first time. 

You need to think about and consider many things to help you purchase the right car for you in the right way. To help make sure that you’re getting behind the wheel of the perfect car, here’s a highly detailed guide that will break down every aspect of the car buying process. 

If you’re unsure about the different finance options you have when buying a car, don’t know where’s best to purchase a vehicle, or aren’t aware of the various documentation and insurance you need for a new car, this guide from Car Adviser should clear up any confusion. 

In this guide

Different Types of Cars You Can Buy

When you begin your search for a new car, you first need to consider the many options you have in terms of what type you can get. Cars vary a lot, and many choices exist, making it tough to narrow down and find your perfect vehicle. Here are a few ways cars can differ from each other and how each variation affects the final product.

Body type

car-body-types

With a lot of manufacturers, each with their own models and versions, there’s a lot of variety within the market. Cars come in multiple shapes and sizes, from saloon cars to estate vehicles, and the body type will influence your experience with your car. 

Here’s a quick overview of the different body types that you can get and the critical features of each to help you figure out which one best suits your desires and needs: 

City cars 

City cars are typically the smallest car you’ll find in the UK. Due to being small, they’re designed to work well in tight streets and narrow lanes, which you’ll find more in cities and large towns.

Key features of city cars are that they usually have very short bumpers to save space and wheels that are pushed out to the very edges of the chassis. They also typically have as large a cabin area that can fit into the small frame to be a viable option for families. 

The main reason people get a city car is that it’s easier to drive in the city and congested areas. Due to its compact nature, parking is more manageable, and manoeuvers are also less complicated due to the typically tight steering. That said, a significant downside is that there’s not a lot of room in city cars, meaning that you won’t be able to carry much.

Superminis 

Superminis are a trendy body shape for cars in the UK. These can be considered halfway between city cars and larger hatchbacks, as they’re still compact but fit four passengers more comfortably than smaller options. They also usually have larger boots, meaning that more luggage can be put in them. 

Superminis are typically lightweight cars, meaning they’re more agile and responsive when moving, which is a huge selling point. These cars are best suited to drivers who want something easy to drive but don’t want to compromise too much on space and comfort.

Hatchbacks

Hatchbacks are a larger body type of car and are well suited for families because they have a decent amount of space. A key feature of a hatchback is that the boot lid and rear windscreen are one unit that moves together. 

Some popular hatchback models include the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, two reliable and classic cars. People like to use hatchbacks because they’re trustworthy, usually perform well, and last a long time. 

The only issue with a hatchback is that you’ll have to choose between storage space and passenger space, so you’ll have to figure out what is important for you. 

Mini-MVPs

A Mini-MVP is a type of body type that is a little bit more practical than a hatchback yet isn’t as premium or expensive as a typical saloon or estate car. 

These cars are defined by a raised driving position, meaning you can see more of the road ahead. They’re also a lot easier to get in and out of and have hip-height seat bases, making them a popular choice for older drivers and those with children. 

The main downside of a Mini-MVP is that some models can be considered a little awkward looking, especially the taller options. If you’re looking for style, Mini-MVPs may not be the right choice for you.  

MVPs 

MVPs are larger vehicles that are great for families as they provide a lot of space and practicality. They often have seven seats, making them great for transporting many people, and for most, the rear seats can fold flat to create a sizeable van-like loading bay. 

Although it’s larger, the vehicle drives like a car while giving you some benefits of getting a van. They’re very similar to SUVs – another large vehicle type – however, they have reduced running costs. 

The issue with MVPs is that they’re usually styled on smaller body types; thus, they can look unnatural and bloated versions of the smaller cars. They’re also usually a bit more expensive to buy. 

Saloons 

Saloon cars are usually associated with the more premium brands in the UK, but they typically come in various shapes and sizes, making them hard to define. 

They’re defined as ‘three-box’ cars, meaning they have a separate engine bay, cabin, and boot.

Saloon cars are considered comfortable to drive, thanks to their longer-than-average wheelbases, which give them more legroom. Their boot shape can mean there’s not as much storage space as some other brands.

Estates

Estate cars are modelled on saloon cars or hatchbacks but are usually longer than these other options. A key way to spot an estate car is that the rear window is a bit more elongated and stretches to the boot lid, increasing the cargo space. 

This is the main advantage of an estate car, but another is that many drivers prefer their look due to their longer roof space. It all comes down to personal preference, and in truth, they are similar to hatchbacks and saloon cars. 

Coupes 

Coupes are one of the more stylish types of cars and can be defined by the curved roof that gives them an elegant look. These cars are usually only two-door, which may not be as practical as other models. Thankfully, some manufacturers also make four-door coupes, helping to blend the aesthetic appeal of a coupe with the practicality of a saloon car. 

Coupes also sit lower to the ground, which can help give an illusion of speed when you’re driving them. The curved roof can mean that there’s not a lot of headroom in these cars, meaning they may not be great for tall owners or passengers. 

4x4s and off-roaders 

These types of cars are designed to be driven both on-road and capable of traversing off-road terrain. Because of these, they’re typically pretty large and powerful, adopting a square-like shape. 

These cars typically bolt their components to a massive frame, making them very sturdy. Designed mainly for those that want to go off-road, they’re also a good option for those looking for a lot of space for passengers and storage. 

These cars aren’t as agile to drive and can be hard to steer. They’re also pretty heavy and use up a lot of fuel, meaning they can cost a lot.

SUVs 

SUVs are large cars with a lot of space for passengers and storage. They’re similar to 4v4s, with the key difference being that they’re only designed for roads. This means that they’re much more comfortable driving than other large cars and are stable at high speeds. 

They best suit those living in open spaces and may struggle in the cities due to their size.  

Convertibles

A simple way to describe a convertible is that it’s a coupe with its roof removed and replaced with a fabric or metal cover. Because of this, these cars can retract the roof, meaning that in good weather, you can drive without a roof and feel the sunshine on you. 

These cars are pretty stylish and are desirable for many. They’re fun to drive and usually have good speed and performance. That said, they’re generally not as practical as other options and have minimal boot space because they need to store the retractable roof.

If you’re getting a car for a family, this may not be the best option as it might not be too comfortable.

Fuel type

cars-market-share-fuel-types

Passenger car registrations in the United Kingdom between 2018 and 2021, by fuel type – Statista

The body type of a car isn’t the only way that cars can differ from each other. In addition, the vehicles available on the market can also have various fuel types. This means that a specific car can be fueled differently from another. 

It’s worth considering which fuel type is best for your situation, as what you choose can impact how you use your car and how much it costs to run and operate it. For example, diesel is one of the most expensive fuel types you can get, with the average price of a litre of diesel costing much more than a litre of petrol. This can make filling up a petrol car more expensive. Plus, diesel cars typically have a much lower fuel economy, meaning you will be filling up more often too. 

You should also consider your fuel type carefully if you live within London or other UK cities implementing a low emission zone. This is because some cars with a high emission rate due to their fuel type may have to pay daily charges to drive in certain areas. Currently, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London charges £12.50 a day if you enter the regulated area with a non-compliant vehicle. If you live or work in a low emission zone, it may suit you better to opt for a ULEZ exempt car, electric or hybrid to ensure that your emissions are low. 

Here’s a more detailed look at each of the main fuel types: 

Petrol 

Out of the two fuel types that use fossil fuel, petrol is the most widely used in the UK. Petrol is made from distilling petroleum and is used within the internal combustion engine of a car to create energy. 

When a car is powered by petrol, a mix of fuel and air is injected into the vehicle’s chamber. When compressed, this ignites the spark plug, which then starts the car. 

Petrol cars are usually more fuel efficient when compared to diesel. You’ll likely get more mileage per litre and thus will have to fill up less frequently. Plus, petrol is regularly cheaper than diesel, making it a good economic choice. The only issue is that petrol cars typically lack power, and this fuel type is often favoured for smaller, more agile vehicles.

Diesel 

Diesel is another reasonably popular fuel type and will commonly be used for larger vehicles or cars that are designed for longer journeys. Diesel is made out of crude oil, and when put into a fuel system, it is compressed by the engine pistons. This compression creates double the amount of pressure created in a petrol car, meaning that the engine gets much hotter and thus burns the fuel when injected into the engine. 

Although buying and running a diesel car can often be more expensive than petrol, they are seen to be more reliable cars on average. This is because the engines of diesel cars are more robust. As they’re designed to withstand higher pressures and temperatures, they usually last longer and are harder to break. 

Electric 

Electric-powered vehicles are multiplying in popularity, availability, and viability and are now one of the most popular ways to fuel your car. Electric cars are powered entirely by a battery and require no fossil fuels. This means that it’s a much cleaner fuel type with virtually no emission. These vehicles that use electricity are perfect for those driving in low-emission areas, such as London’s ULEZ. You can find out more about the ULEZ and how to check if a car is ULEZ compliant here.

As they’re powered by electricity, these cars are typically less powerful, as they can’t rely on combustion. That said, electric vehicles are getting better after each iteration and now drive and perform in a similar way to traditional cars. 

One past criticism of electric cars is that they need charging regularly and run out of juice much quicker than a fuel tank would. In recent years electric vehicles are becoming more efficient and can go further on a single charge. Plus, more fuel charging stations are appearing in the UK, making them much more convenient to own. 

If you’re considering buying a new car, it may be worth getting an electric one. This is because new petrol and diesel car sales will be outlawed in 2030, so it may be worth getting ahead of the curve and a compliant vehicle.

Hybrid  

A hybrid car is a vehicle that can be considered a mix between a petrol car and an electric car. These cars have a traditional engine and an electric motor which both work together to give you the horsepower of a conventional car while still being energy efficient and low emission. 

With hybrid cars, you can choose to power it fully with electricity or use the engine to assist it. The engine can also charge the electric motor and harnesses the energy created through braking. This makes it last even longer. This means the average mileage you can obtain is more than 100% electric cars. 

Hybrid vehicles will be the best option for people who want to experience the power and driving experience of a traditional vehicle while also contributing to lower emissions. These cars are perfect for those that regularly drive in low-emission zones.

A word on misfuelling

When you get petrol, diesel or even a hybrid car, you need to be cautious about the possibility of misfuelling your car. Misfuelling is when you use the wrong fuel type for your vehicle, such as putting diesel in a petrol car. 

Misfuelling can be really damaging for your car, especially if you don’t spot it early and drive even a short distance with the wrong fuel. Having the wrong fuel can cause your engine to erode, cause total engine failure, and damage components in your fuel system, such as the filter. 

Fixing an engine that’s been damaged by misfuelling can be pretty expensive, depending on the extent of the damage. As well as this, it’s an issue you’ll likely have to pay for yourself, even if you have insurance and a warranty. This is because misfuelling is considered accidental damage, which isn’t covered by most providers. 

If you realise that you’ve misfuelled, you first need to turn your car off and not drive it. If you haven’t driven your car, it can be possible to have your engine and fuel system drained and flushed to remove the wrong fuel. 

You can learn more about what to do and how to avoid misfuelling here on Car Adviser, regardless of if you’ve put diesel in a petrol car or petrol in a diesel car

New Cars Vs. Used Cars

In addition to getting a car in different shapes that use different fuel types, you also have the choice to buy a car brand new from a manufacturer or buy a car from the second-hand market that’s been owned and used by someone else. 

Each option has benefits and negatives and will suit different circumstances and situations. Here’s a look at what you can expect when buying a new or a used car: 

New Cars

A new car hasn’t been owned by anyone and hasn’t been driven at all. New cars are usually bought directly from a manufacturer’s official showroom. As a result of being new, they’re generally pretty expensive, and often a manufacturer will charge a fair bit for you to add extra features. 

Despite the price of new cars, a few benefits can be found when getting a brand-new vehicle. The first is that because it’s not been driven or used before, it will be in fantastic condition. Not only will it look good, but the internal components will also have no wear and tear, meaning they will perform well and likely last a long time. 

When getting a new car, you also can customise the specifications of the car to your wants and needs. This can make the car feel more tailored to you, making it much more comfortable. These customisation options will cost you, so you can only tinker as much as your budget affords. 

In addition, getting a new car is also good because you’ll likely be offered a free warranty. This article will go into warranties in more detail later on, but essentially a warranty is an agreement where the provider will cover the costs of repairs and faults. A warranty from a manufacturer that you get when it’s new typically lasts between 2-5 years, with some going as far as seven years. This means that you can get significant protection for your car. 

Buying a new car will also usually give you access to additional perks. For example, a new car dealership may also offer free MOTs and services, or discounts on other things, making the experience and product a bit more value for money.

Despite all the benefits, the most significant negative about buying new is that once you have the car, its value will drop massively. The second you leave with a new car, it’ll fall in value by at least 25%. In fact, a new car decreases in value by around 20-30% a year, and after three years, a new car will only be worth around 40% of its original price. 

This is terrible news if you want to sell your car in the future, as it will be impossible to regain an amount similar to what you originally paid for the car.

Nearly new cars

A nearly new car is a type of used car. However, for a vehicle to be considered nearly new, it can’t be older than 12 months and must have a low number of mileage on the clock. This number can change, but typically it’ll be under 5,000 miles. 

Getting a nearly new car is a great option for many reasons. The first is that it’s cheaper than buying a brand-new car. This is because its value would have dropped by at least 20% from its original price due to how a car depreciates in value. This means that you can get excellent savings. 

Plus, with nearly new cars being under a year old, you can expect them to still be in excellent condition, making this a trustworthy type of car to buy. These cars will still be in their original warranty period, meaning that if you come across faults, they will be covered. 

The main issue with nearly new cars is that there’s a small market for them, and there is not much choice compared to new or used cars. This is because the criteria to be considered nearly new are very strict, and not many people will sell or get rid of their vehicles within a year of owning them. 

Some sellers specialise in nearly new and young cars, with Motorpoint being an excellent place to get a car because they’re all under four years old.  

Used cars

When buying a car, most people in the UK will buy it used. There are many reasons why buying a used car is so popular, the most apparent being that used cars are the cheapest you can get on the market. In fact, a used car that’s only three years old should be worth less than half the price of a new vehicle. 

Used cars offer good value for money, but you need to make sure you’re buying from the right places to increase your chances of getting a reliable vehicle. Many used car dealers, both online and in-person, refurbish used cars before selling them. When you buy a car with these vendors, you can trust that the vehicle is in good condition. 

However, be aware that because used cars can be older, they are at more risk of issues and faults due to wear and tear. Before you buy a used car, be sure to give it a good inspection and also look at its history to see if it has a past of frequent breakdowns and issues. 

A word on write-offs

When buying a used car, some cars you view may be registered as write-offs, and it’s essential to understand what this means. 

A write-off is a vehicle that has been damaged, typically in a collision, and has been deemed too expensive to repair. Usually, when a car is damaged, the insurance provider will pay for it to be fixed and then return it to the owner. However, a write-off car will usually have expensive damage, meaning that it’s discarded, and the owner is given a replacement vehicle. 

Once written off, a car will then be given one of four possible categories. These categories indicate the damage’s extent and dictate what can be done with the written-off car. The categories are as follows: 

Cat A cars

This category is for the most severely damaged cars that have been written off. For a car to get a Cat A, the insurer would have deemed it impossible to repair the car safely. As a result, if a car is given a Cat A, it is considered unsafe for the road and isn’t allowed to be repaired. Instead, a Cat A car needs to be scrapped and destroyed. 

The damage to a Cat A car is so bad that even the parts within a car cannot be stripped out and reused or sold. To ensure that Cat A cars don’t enter the second hand market, a certificate must be obtained by the owner of a Cat A car to say that it has been appropriately scrapped and destroyed. 

As a result of their fate to the scrap yard, Cat A cars are also known as scrap cars within the motor industry.

A car is likely to become a Cat A car if it’s been involved in a highspeed, heavy impact crash, has been engulfed in a fire, or has been flooded. The damage done to a Cat A car needs to be across the whole vehicle, with there being no areas of salvage.

Cat B cars

Cat B cars are write-off cars that are pretty similar to Cat A. Both types of cars have sustained so much damage that they can’t be safely repaired, meaning they’re not allowed to be sold on and will never be deemed roadworthy. 

The crucial difference between Cat B and Cat A is that a Cat B car can be stripped for parts. This means that various components of a Cat B car can be removed and either used to repair another vehicle or sold on to someone else. Removing parts from a car to sell them is known as breaking, and because of this, Cat B cars are also known as break cars. 

Almost any part of a Cat B car can be removed and sold, providing it’s in a good enough condition. Things like the gearbox, steering wheel, headlights, brake system, and even car panels can be removed and sold on, as long as they’re undamaged and still work. 

The only thing you can’t sell from a Cat B car is any part considered structural. As a result, most people with a Cat B car will strip what they can for parts, sell them on, and then scrap the rest of the car for extra cash. 

Cat S cars

A Cat S car has been written off due to damage but is one where mechanics can fully repair it. This means Cat S cars can be sold on the second-hand market, providing they’ve been repaired to a good standard. 

What defines a Cat S car is structural damage that has occurred to the car. This means the only damage to a Cat S car will be to places like its chassis, the centre and front pillar of the car, and all the vehicle rails. Items like the steering wheel, brakes, and even the suspension aren’t considered structural, so they wouldn’t have been damaged on a Cat S car.

If a car has been given a Cat S in its lifetime, it needs to be disclosed when it’s sold. If a used car that you’re interested in is a Cat S, you should make sure that you do checks on it to ensure it was repaired to a good standard, as Cat S cars are at greater risk of breaking down or being less safe to drive.

Cat N cars

Cat N cars are similar to Cat S vehicles in that they’re write-off cars deemed repairable. This means that you may purchase vehicles that were given a Cat N when searching for a used car. 

What makes a Cat N car different from Cat S is that the damage it’s received was likely very minimal, and crucially, wasn’t to any parts that make up the structural frame. As a result of the damage in a Cat N likely being minimal and not that bad, they’re easily one of the safest write-off used cars you can buy. 

Most of the time, the damage to a Cat N car will be cosmetic, with things like dents, bent or broken spoilers, or deep scratches in the paintwork being the most common. If you find a Cat N car like this, it likely means that it’s going to be pretty safe to drive and reliable, although you should still do some checks. 

Cat N cars are the most suited write-off car to be restored and sold on. However, because of that, they’re also going to be one of the most expensive to buy. These cars, as well as Cat S cars, need to be re-registered by the DVLA to be legal to go on the road. Despite that, there are no legal requirements for the repairs done to a Cat N car to be checked, meaning there is a risk that the work done on it wasn’t great. That’s why it’s a good idea to check write-off cars before buying them.

If you’re tempted to buy a Cat S or Cat N used car, you should get it inspected first. Although these cars can be a lot cheaper to buy, as they’re not considered that valuable, they are also at more risk of breaking down or having faults if they weren’t repaired well. You can get a write-off car checked by the RAC or the AA, who will conduct a multi-point checklist to ensure it’s in good condition. 

Be aware that although write-off cars can be cheaper to buy than other used cars, they may not be the most financially sensible options. This is because these cars are usually a lot more expensive to insure. Write-off cars are seen as more likely to break down or get into accidents, no matter how well they’ve been repaired. To combat this, insurers charge a premium for these cars, making them more expensive for you to own. 

Also, the added risk is that a write-off used car may need more frequent servicing, repairs, and maintenance, which could cost a lot over the years. As a result, even though the car’s cost may be less, it may be more expensive overall when compared to different kinds of used cars.

If you want to learn more about the different categories of written-off cars to help you buy a used car, you can find out more here.

How To Check A New Car

When searching for a new car to buy, you must thoroughly inspect any vehicles you’re interested in to ensure they’re in the condition they’re advertised as. 

No matter if you’re buying a new car or a used car, it’s worth falling into the habit of conducting checks to protect your investment. Here are a few things that you should be doing to ensure that you check a new car well: 

Check car history

Each car you consider buying will have a past, even if it’s nearly new. Before you purchase any vehicle, no matter where you plan to get it from, it’s good to check the vehicle’s history. This is because a car’s history can tell you a lot about what to expect when you buy it.

A car’s past could be hiding many different issues that can influence your decision to buy the car or not. Here are a few things you can do to help give you a better insight into the car’s history.

Use a car reg checker 

One of the first things you should do is use a registration checker to help you better understand a car and its history. When you check the registration of a vehicle, it will pull up a lot of helpful information about the car, such as its current mileage, age, and make and model. Having a clear indication of a car’s age and mileage gives you an insight into how its previous owner treated it. 

For example, a high mileage despite a young age may indicate that it’s been used heavily and could be more susceptible to wear. 

In addition, a reg check can inform you about valuable details, like if a car has been written off in the past, if it’s been in an accident, or if it is registered as stolen. All of these are undesirable traits for any car that you’re buying, so it’s worth finding out this information to help protect you. 

There are multiple reg checkers online, with many of the best ones being free and detailed. In addition to the car’s history, a reg checker will also let you know if it’s been taxed or for an MOT.

If you want to check a car for tax, you can use the Car Adviser tax check

Ask for the history logbook 

Each car should have a logbook that stays with the vehicle and is passed on from owner to owner. In this logbook, the history of any repairs, services, MOTs, and accidents must be noted and collected. This means that looking at the logbook can be a great source to see the car’s official history. 

A logbook can get into a fair bit of depth about a car, which can be helpful for a potential buyer as it can let you know if there are any regular faults or issues that the car has been serviced for in the past. 

If a car has failed an MOT in the past, you’ll also see it in the logbook. This makes it a great tool for understanding the condition of the vehicle better, and it also gives you enough knowledge to figure out if you want to buy it or not.

Check car quality

Regardless of where you’re buying a car, you want to ensure that it’s in good condition and that you’re getting a quality standard vehicle. After all, you’re parting with a sizeable amount of money to fund the purchase, so you need to ensure that it’s good value. Thankfully, you can do many different things when viewing a car to see if it’s quality. 

Look for its MOT history

For a car to be deemed road legal, it needs to pass an MOT inspection every year. An MOT is an in-depth look at the car and is done by a mechanic, following a robust checklist that will check everything about a car. 

When buying a car, you want to see its MOT history to see if it’s passed its previous MOTs or missed any. Ideally, if you’re buying a car, it should have a 100% success rate of MOT passes. However, a fail here, and there isn’t the end of the world. 

Cars can fail MOTs for minor reasons, so seeing fails in a car’s past shouldn’t put you off. However, consistent fails for the same issue is a red flag, as it means that you’ll likely have a problem with this issue, too, if you buy the car. 

What’s great about an MOT history is that each test will detail any issues or points of concern, giving you a better understanding of any components that may not be in the best condition when buying it.

You can check a car’s MOT status here on Car Adviser. 

Get an independent inspection 

When viewing a car, it’s a good idea to try to get the vehicle inspected by an expert mechanic or engineer. This is because being able to get someone in to properly look at the car and see if there are any issues at present can be a great way to stop you from getting a vehicle that has problems. 

You can get independent inspections done by either the AA and RAC and both will follow a pretty detailed checklist to help them find even the smallest of issues. 

Knowing about parts and faults you may have to fix down the line can help you better work out how much the car will cost you in its lifetime, which can be good leverage to help negotiate the price down. 

The only issue with getting an inspection is that it can be pretty hard to organise, especially if you’re buying from a dealership or a private seller. The seller may not be that welcoming about the idea of an inspection, so it could cause aggravation and slow the buying process. If the seller offers a money-back guarantee period, you can always buy the car, get it checked immediately, and then return it if you find issues, although this can be risky. 

Give the car a test-drive

When viewing a car, especially if you’re getting one from a dealership or manufacturer, you should be able to have the option to test drive the car that you’re interested in. This is a great opportunity to get a feel for the car and figure out how you feel about it. 

When going for a test drive, be sure to think about how it feels to drive and how responsive it is. You should always be observant of any signs of issues, such as a rattling or if certain functions don’t feel too responsive. Test out all the electronics, too, to ensure that they’re also working. 

Once you’ve identified that everything is working as it should, you should also take the time to assess the quality of the car’s performance. See if the steering is floaty and if the suspension is comfortable. If there’s nothing wrong with the vehicle, still remember that you’re under no obligation to buy it if you feel that it’s just not feeling right for you.

Check legality

Sometimes, when buying a used car, the seller or the process may not be legitimate. This can often happen if you buy a car from an independent public member. It can be a massive headache if you buy a car that’s not allowed to be sold. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that the sale of the vehicle is legal. 

Ask for all needed documentation 

When selling a car, there needs to be some documentation to be handed over for the sale to be legal. One of the main things that you need to hand over is proof of purchase. 

There needs to be a copy for both the buyer and seller, which is used to legally identify who is now the car’s owner. Proof of purchase needs to have the address and details of both people involved in the sale of a car, as well as the registration number of the car, its make, its model, and the year it was made. 

You’ll also need section 6 of a V5C form as a buyer. This section indicates to the DVLA that the car has been sold so that they can update their database.

As well as this, a new buyer also needs to receive the logbook, the service history of the car, an MOT certificate, the warranty on the car, if there is any remaining, and any receipts for repairs and servicing.

Check that the car is registered by the DVLA 

For a car to be considered road legal, it needs to be registered by the DVLA. If it isn’t at the point where you buy the vehicle, it means that the sale is illegal and shouldn’t be done. 

There are many reasons why a car may not be registered with the DVLA. The first is that it was written off and thought to be scrapped or broken for parts. If this is the case, it can mean that the car you’re buying isn’t in good condition and should be avoided.

Make sure the seller actually owns the car 

It’s illegal for someone to sell you a car they don’t own, as it’s not their possession to sell and profit from. When checking for this, it doesn’t just mean that you should check to see if the vehicle is stolen; you should also see if the seller has fully paid the car off. 

One way people can own a car is through finance. This is where they borrow money from the seller to buy the car and then pay that back in monthly instalments, plus interest. If someone is selling a car while still paying off their financial plan, they’re legally not allowed to do so, as they currently do not fully own the car. You want to avoid this situation when buying a car, as it could end up being a sticky situation.

Ensure that it’s not a Cat A or Cat B write-off

You are legally allowed to buy a Cat S or Cat N car. However, you are not allowed to buy a Cat B car to drive it, nor are you allowed to purchase a Cat A car at all. 

In fact, Cat A cars need to be destroyed, meaning that if the vehicle you’re buying has a Cat A classification, it means that it illegally avoided being scrapped and may not be safe for you to own. You can easily check to see if a car has been written off and what category it has by checking its logbook or by searching its registration with a checking tool. 

Different Ways To Buy a Car

When buying a car, there are multiple different ways that you can finance the purchase. It may surprise many, but most people who buy a car typically do not purchase it outright in one transaction.

Cars can be expensive, meaning that for most people, buying a car in full is not something they can budget for. Thankfully, there are multiple different ways that you can pay for a car. 

Each option will have its positives and negatives and will suit different situations. When buying a car for yourself, it’s a good idea to know the finance options available to you to figure out which one works best for you. Here’s a look at some of the main ways you can buy a car.

Buying a car outright

Buying a car outright is where you pay for the car, covering the car’s costs with money that you either have as cash or that’s in your bank account. When you pay for a car like this, it means that you will own the car from the start, meaning that you can do anything you want to it, providing that it’s legal. 

In an ideal world, most people would rather buy a car outright, as it’s secure and means you can modify it and sell it quickly. The issue is that buying a vehicle outright can be pretty hard, especially if you don’t have money in the bank. Cars can be a rather significant expense, so it’s unrealistic to think that most people can part with thousands of pounds at once. Thankfully, there are other options for people who want to pay for a car differently.

Part-exchange

If you have a current car that you’re planning on selling to help you finance a new car, there is an option available where you can part exchange it. When you do that, the value of your current vehicle will be put towards the cost of your new one, helping you reduce the cost of the vehicle you’re buying. 

Essentially, instead of buying your car and giving you cash for it, the dealer is instead using its value to knock the price off what they’re selling. 

It’s worth noting that a part exchange will likely pay you less than if you were to sell your car privately. That said, putting your car up on the market and waiting for buyers can be longwinded and might not suit those who want to sell their vehicle quickly. Part exchanges are a lot quicker to sort and thus are a more convenient way to access cash from your old car, which is why many people choose to buy a car this way.

Car finance

Buying a car on finance means that instead of paying for the car all at once, you’re paying off the car monthly. Buying a car through finance is a standard way to purchase a vehicle, as it can make it more affordable as you pay less each month. 

That said, when you finance a car, you’ll end up paying more than what the car was worth. This is because interest is applied to the car’s value. When you finance a vehicle, you’re essentially borrowing money from the seller to pay it back. To protect them financially, you have to pay more to ensure it’s worth their time. 

Another potential issue with financing a car is that you’re not the owner of the car until you fully pay off the debt. Depending on how much you agree to pay for the car each month, you could end up having a contract for multiple years. This means that during this period, you cannot sell the vehicle or make any modifications. 

Despite this, financing does have its benefits. Firstly, you don’t have to pay a deposit for the car, which can help save some initial money. You also don’t need a fantastic credit score to be accepted for finance, and it may also help boost your overall credit rating to allow you access to better credit products in the future.

Car Leasing

Car leasing can be a bit similar to regular car finance, and because of that, many people confuse the two. When you lease a car, you pay a deposit and then make monthly payments for the length of your contract. 

Where it differs is that once your lease expires and you reach the end of your contract, you don’t own the car. Instead, you have to give the vehicle back to who you leased it from. This means that leasing is essentially renting the vehicle for an extended period. 

When you lease a car, it’s typically a lot cheaper than other forms of finance, making it a desirable option for most. With that said, there are a few restrictions that you may have to follow in terms of your lease.

For example, some providers may set you a mileage limit, where you’ll be charged extra if you go over it. Plus, maintenance isn’t usually included when you lease a car, meaning that you’ll have to sort that separately and factor that into the overall price.

Car Subscription