Choosing Your First Car

Choosing Your First Car

Looking for your first car is truly an exciting time but can also be quite intimidating if you are not certain about what you are looking for and what you are looking at.

At Surrey Driving Force we want to help our learner drivers in any way that we can and because of this we’ve prepared a short guide to hopefully help steer you in the right direction.

When buying a used car from a dealer choose a local company with a good reputation. Also, it’s worth asking family & friends for recommendations.

Which Car Makes The Best First Car?

There is a long list of things which you should be taken into account when looking into the purchase of any car and especially the purchase of your very first car.

Although the first thing people take into account when deciding on their budget is the amount that the car may cost to purchase, it is very important not to underestimate the associated and unavoidable costs that come with buying any car.

As well as the purchase price, many other aspects must be taken into account such as petrol, MOT, insurance, road tax, repairs & servicing.

In our experience we strongly recommend looking at a smaller car as a first car for an inexperienced driver. Smaller cars are both easier to control and more economical to run. A more powerful car will inevitably cost more in both fuel & insurance and will not be as safe to drive until you have built up a greater level of driving experience.

Whereabouts Can I Buy a Car?

Once you have decided on the figure that you can afford, you will then be in a position to start your search. There are a huge number of outlets from which you can purchase a car so anything that can help to narrow the field will be a huge help. Websites such as help you to search for available cars geographically to help ensure that you do not identify the car of your dreams only to find that it is for sale 200 miles away!! Periodicals such as The Which Car Guide and Parkers are also hugely beneficial as they rate and review all makes and models of car. They also provide a price guide which is a very valuable tool when searching for your first car.

Recognised or Independent Dealer?

For your first car, it is nearly always safer to purchase from a recognised dealer. You can also buy used cars from a similar source but will normally pay a higher price than through an independent dealer. A recognised dealer will also nearly always offer a significantly better after-sales service.

We wouldn’t recommend purchasing a car from a private seller for your first car. Although prices may well be lower, there are some substantial risks associated with private sales as you will have no after-sales service & fewer legal rights. It is a legal requirement that the car must be sold as advertised but many other rules do not apply.

What Must I Do When I Find A Car?

It is vitally important to check the documentation before completing the purchase of the car.

  • The vehicle registration certificate (V5C), which shows the registered keeper of a car;
  • MOT certificates (make sure they are annual if the car is more than three years old)
  • Paperwork showing its full service history.

Although the MOT certificate should be checked it is important to note that it is not a guarantee that a car is roadworthy or safe. It will only show that the car passed its MOT test on a specific day.

IsA Test Drive Important?

In a word – YES! It is of the utmost importance that you take the car out for a test drive before completing the purchase and this becomes even more important if it is a used vehicle. Some things that you should take into account when test driving a car are as follows:

  • Please make sure that you are insured to drive it.
  • Ensure that the engine is cold to ascertain whether there are any problems with a cold start.
  • Ensure that the test drive is of adequate time so that you can check brakes & steering & to get a feel for the car.
  • Be prepared to haggle

What about Car Insurance?

Once you have narrowed your search and have chosen a car, you should check the car in question’s insurance group to be able to obtain a general estimate of the price that you will be paying. Once you have done this, there are many different ways to obtain an insurance quote, you can either go directly to an insurance company or use one of the many insurance comparison websites to provide you with a wide range of insurance quotes.

Newly qualified and inexperienced drivers have the option of completing the Pass Plus course which has been designed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to boost your general levels of driving experience. The successful completion of this course will allow enable you to become eligible to significant discounts on your insurance premium from participating insurance companies.

To find out more about Pass Plus course please give us a call on 0845 190 2012 or email

Do I Need RoadTax?

You do need road tax for your vehicle. You have the option of purchasing road tax for either six or twelve months & the tax disc is displayed on the vehicle. When the tax has run out (check the date on the disc) you need to apply for a new one by filling out a form (V10) at the post office and producing your Vehicle registration document, a valid certificate of insurance and an MOT certificate. With the correct documents you can also renew your car tax on the vehicle licence website.

Will I Need an MOT?

A valid MOT certificate is required for all cars over three years old. An MOT costs approximately £50 for a car which seats up to eight passengers & the certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

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