Buying your first car can be both exciting and daunting.  Here are some of our tips to get you on the road without the hassle

  1. Take your time and try out a few cars before you make a decision.  Different cars can drive very differently from each other, so don't just go on looks, take them for a spin before you decide on a make and model.

  2. Get the right equipment.  Insist on Power Steering for ease of maneuvering, adjustable steering wheels to get a comfortable driving position.  Then the options: Do you need powered windows? Sat Nav?  Air-Conditioning?  Probably Air-Con is a must, but you could use your Smartphone for Sat Nav and windy windows are kind of retro and won't cost much to fix if they break!

  3. Safety!  Check how many NCAP stars the car has.  A good rating will ensure if you do unfortunately get involved in a collision, it will only be the car that suffers damage.  Click here for NCAP ratings.

  4. Go for Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  This is how much the vehicle will 'actually' cost you to own.  Older cars generally have poor emissions and fuel consumption.  This will affect how much road tax you pay and your annual fuel bill.  Petrol cars are slightly cheaper to fill-up then diesel, but diesel vehicles are usually more economical and have lower road tax bills.

  5. Petrol or Diesel?  The general rule is if you do less than 5,000 miles a year choose petrol, but make sure your road tax isn't excessive.  Diesels have recently got a bad reputation for the sooty particulates that they pump out into our cities.  New legislation may mean that older diesel vehicles will be banned from city centres.  New vehicles will be permitted, so check the engine type of any diesel vehicle you are looking to buy.  Diesel engines are rated EURO1-6.  Only buy from EURO5 onwards to ensure you can drive freely around the UK and Europe.

  6. Make sure you can afford the insurance.  New drivers typically face annual insurance bills of between £1,700 and £2,200.  Opt for a Telematics or 'Black Box' to be fitted to your car to reduce premiums.  They usually provide excellent driver feedback and reward you for good driving, driving on safe roads or avoiding busy commute times.  There are a number of specialist insurers for young and/or new drivers and insurance comparison sites can be good way of checking how much a vehicle will cost you before you buy.  When you have got a quote, phone our partner Adrian Flux and see if they can beat it - they usually don't disappoint. Click here for further information.

  7. New or used? New vehicles will lose value as soon as you drive it out of the showroom, although some manufacturers offer attractive service packages, free insurance to over 18's and finance packages that make it easier to buy.  You can save thousands by buying a used vehicle and if it's still under 3 years old and 60,000 miles, and the servicing has been kept up-to-date, it may well still be covered by manufacturer's warranty.  You may also be able to get a much better specification buying a used vehicle, as your pound will stretch further.

  8. Where to buy? We don't recommend buying privately.  It may be tempting, but there is no come-back on the seller if there is a problem with the vehicle.  The same applies to auctions such as EBAY and even British Car Auctions 'Assured' vehicles only provide 48 hours warranty.  BCA buyers fees can be over £1000 per vehicle. Independent dealers tend to sell vehicles at least £500 cheaper than main dealers and should be able to offer warranties and finance.  Check if warranties cover wear and tear and include breakdown cover (ours do).  Any motor trader should offer as a minimum 6 months MOT & warranty, even if they are covering the vehicle themselves, rather than using a partner such as Warrantywise. Click here for further information

  9. How to buy?  Cash is not always best.  Choosing finance can enable you to buy a car with a much lower TCO by making it more affordable.  Paying interest on a loan, might be more than off-set by very low road tax, good insurance rates and great fuel MPG.  Finance is generally reserved for vehicles over £3000 and requires a 10% deposit.  For nearly new more expensive vehicles we can offer hire purchase and personal lease plans, in addition to straight-forward vehicle loans.  Click this link for more information.

  10. Our recommendations.  Check out our 'Top 10' feature to see what we recommend for your first car.  Our personal favourites are the Kia Picanto (built like a tank), Skoda Fabia (very well engineered & fun to drive) and Volkswagen UP! (just looks so cool)

Seat Ibiza

The latest Ibiza is one of the best small cars around, with a strong range of petrol engines and plenty of space. It also works out cheaper per month than the Volkswagen Polo or Ford Fiesta if you buy on finance, and insurance costs should be low.

Skoda Fabia

The Fabia was our 2015 Car of the Year, and it remains one of our favourite small cars. Its blend of competitive pricing, spacious interior and clean, frugal engines mean it should be at or near the top of your list.

Skoda Citigo

The Citigo is one of the family of cars that also includes the Seat Mii and Volkswagen Up!, the Citigo is the cheapest of the lot. It's fun to drive, well built and offers exceptionally low running costs.

Seat Mii

Essentially the same car as the Volkswagen Up!, the Mii feels a bit cheaper inside, but undercuts its sister car on price and is just as good to drive. Both three and five-door versions are available.

Renault Clio

Classy and quieter than ever before, the current Clio is a great small hatchback with low running costs. It also offers a wider range of personalisation options than you’ll find on many of its rivals; you can go crazy with seemingly endless colour and trim combinations

Hyundai i10

Cheap to buy and run, the Hyundai i10 offers a lot of interior space for such a small car. It's also nippy and easy to park, plus SE versions and above come well equipped.

Ford Fiesta

The UK’s best-selling car is stylish and brilliant to drive, but it's also affordable. It makes an excellent new or used choice, and the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol Ecoboost engines are particularly good.
Dacia’s rock-bottom prices mean you get more for your money than you do with any other car in the Sandero’s price range. However, Access spec's standard equipment is basic, so we'd suggest looking at mid-range Ambiance models.
The Picanto has excellent handling, a generously sized boot and comes with a seven-year warranty. On top of that, it's slightly cheaper to buy than the Hyundai i10, and looks like great value compared with the Volkswagen Up, Seat Mii or Skoda Citigo.

Kia Picanto

Volkswagen UP!

The Up! is closely related to the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo, but it's classier inside than both these cars. In fact. Indeed, it feels like a proper Volkswagen, despite its compact dimensions and relatively low price.
Our Top 10 Picks for First Cars is powered by

Dacia Sandero

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