Whether you’re buying a car for the first time, or finally trading in a vehicle you’ve been trundling around in for years on end, the car-buying process can be a little bit intimidating. It’s the most major purchase many of us make in our lifetimes (with the exception of your house), and there’s extra pressure to make the right call.
What do you need?
Before making any purchase of this sort, it’s vital to take stock of just what you’re after. Are you going to be frequently carrying passengers? What kind of surfaces are you going to be driving on? Will you be performing short urban commutes, or travelling great distances over motorways? Do you have a boat or a caravan that needs towing?
The answers to all of these questions will exert a massive influence on your ultimate choice of vehicle. But if you’re going to be driving this new car frequently, it’s also worth considering the driving experience – if a car is a pain to drive, then you’ll probably come to resent it.
What can you afford?
Having an idea of your budget at the outset will help to prevent you from entering into a burdensome agreement. You don’t want to be crippled by debt repayments for months on end, after all. If you’re in a comfortable financial position, then you might elect to pay for the entire vehicle outright. This will end up cheaper in the long term, as you won’t have to worry about interest. For everyone else, financing makes a sound investment. As a general rule, you’ll want to restrict the amount your spend on your car to around 20% of your overall outgoings, and ideally less than that.
Your financial circumstances will influence your decision; if you’re working a zero-hours contract, or you’re self-employed, then you might prefer the financial security that comes with lower payments.
If you’re based in Belfast and you’re in the market for a Rav4, then looking at every Toyota dealer Northern Ireland has to offer might be impractical. Still, it’s worth examining your options and looking to see what kind of aftercare is offered at each dealership.
To lease or to buy
Leasing a car provides many advantages over buying one. To begin with, you’ll be driving a more expensive car than you otherwise would. Moreover, you’ll be able to easily upgrade every few years without the hassle of a trade-in. However, you’ll tend to spend less money overall if you opt to buy, and you’ll have the luxury of being able to modify it to suit your particular tastes.