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Cars for younger drivers: what to look for

Cars for younger drivers: what to look for

As a younger driver, you might not have much experience in choosing cars. If you’re wondering how you can get the best vehicle for you, read on for some helpful tips.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
3
minute read
posted 23 OCTOBER 2019

Check what you can afford to pay in running and maintenance costs

Even if you have enough money to buy a car, you’ll also need to pay to keep it running. Costs you’ll need to consider include car insurance, road tax (also known as Vehicle Excise Duty or VED), MOT costs, servicing costs and an emergency fund for any unexpected repairs. Once you know how much you can spend in total – both initially and over time – you can find a car that works for your budget.

Think fuel

Fuel costs are an important factor in choosing a car. Confusingly, although petrol and diesel are sold in litres, fuel economy is measured in miles per gallon (mpg), which is how far you can drive with a gallon of fuel in your tank.

Be aware that while diesel may be more economical over longer distances, there are restrictions on older diesel vehicles in parts of London. To compare the fuel economy of different cars, try the government’s fuel data tool.

Choose an appropriately sized car

If you’re only using the car for yourself and travelling short distances, you likely won’t need a large or powerful car – and you might not feel confident about handling one. A family-sized car, or one with a larger engine, could also cost you more to buy and to run. Consider a smaller car that can keep your costs low.

Choose a car with a less expensive insurance group

In the UK, car insurance groups are listed from 1 (the lowest group) to 50 (the highest), with the cost of insuring the car typically increasing with the group number.

For a younger driver, buying a car that’s in a lower group means your insurance costs are likely to be more affordable. Find out about the cheapest cars to insure in our Young Drivers Report.

Think insurance before you buy your car

Before you can even drive your newly purchased car away from the dealership or private seller, you have to be insured. Insurance will be a recurring cost, so choose an option you know you can afford. Compare insurance providers to find a deal that suits your needs and budget.

Consider telematics insurance for lower premiums

Telematics insurance, also called black box insurance, can help lower your insurance premium. Insurance providers install a black box in your car or use a smartphone app to track your driving.

Using GPS and in-car diagnostics, the black box or app can record the speed of your car, where it is and how you brake and accelerate, giving the insurance provider an indication of how you drive. The more safely you drive, the less of a risk you’re seen to be and the cheaper your insurance premium could be.

Decide carefully where to buy your car

Buying from a private seller or trader, or buying in an auction, might be too complicated for a first-time driver, so be careful when considering these options. You might not get a car that’s roadworthy, for example, and you aren’t guaranteed to get a warranty. And be wary of buying a very cheap car, as it might end up costing you a lot in repairs.

Buying from a dealer might be a better option, as you’re likely to get a warranty and a car that’s been inspected thoroughly.

Choose features to make driving safer

Unfortunately, as a younger driver, you’re more likely to have an accident. So although a car equipped with the latest safety features might be more expensive, it may be worth it. Consider anti-lock braking systems (ABS), auto emergency braking (AEB) and electronic stability control (ESC) to help you with general driving, driving in adverse weather conditions and reacting to emergencies.

Cars that have good safety ratings can also be cheaper to insure. And they’ll help give you – and your parents – peace of mind when you’re on the road.

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