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New study reveals severe lack of research undertaken by first-car buyers

  • First-time car buyers can jump the gun too quickly
  • Proper checks needed to ensure safe and legal purchases
  • Read our advice given for new drivers

Many first-time car buyers don't research their purchases properly

A new study has revealed that almost two-thirds of all first-time car buyers are failing to research their purchase properly and to carry out the relevant checks. Cars are one of the public’s most expensive purchases, with buyers typically spending around £3,000 on their first set of wheels, so is not a process that should be taken lightly. Fortunately with so many research tools available, buyers need not go in blind.

Choosing the wrong vehicle can be costly as well as dangerous – yet it emerged that 63% of new motorists failed to thoroughly check their first car over before buying it. This research also uncovered that 70% didn't really know what they were looking for when buying their first car - while 40% didn’t even go for a test-drive.

Consequently, 49% of the 1,000 first-time buyers polled said they regretted their purchase.

People need to stop jumping the gun

Keith Adams, editor of Parkers.co.uk, the UK’s largest consumer advice and car-review website, which commissioned the research, said: ‘Buying your first car can be very much a head vs heart decision, with drivers often excited and overwhelmed by the experience.

‘Our study has revealed a lot of people are jumping straight in and buying a car without doing the proper and necessary research or carrying out the relevant checks and this can create problems down the line.

‘Buyers who rush their purchase or don’t carry out the correct checks could end up with a car that has outstanding finance on it, is an insurance write-off, or has technical and safety issues which could put them and others on the road at risk.'

What Parkers recommends first-car buyers

‘We recommend new drivers buying their first car do their research by reading buying guides, learning car jargon and speaking to friends and family to ensure they get the right car for their needs.’

Parkers.co.uk, which has hundreds of pages of car buying advice and more than 1,000 car reviews, has now created a free and easy quiz to test people’s knowledge of automotive jargon.

In a survey by OnePoll for Parkers.co.uk, 15% of new car buyers didn’t bother to look at any previous documents such as servicing history, MoT certificates or even the logbook before purchasing their car. The most important things that buyers looked at when checking out the vehicle included the history, overall condition, insurance costs and mileage.

Londoners are the most confused

It was revealed that buyers in London were the most confused (25%), while those in the South-East were the most excited (51%). Motorists in the North-East were the most likely to admit they felt clueless when buying their first vehicle (24%).

The study found that first-time buyers typically view four cars before making a purchase. Government figures revealed that 578,347 passed their driving test between April 2018 and March 2019 - with a pass rate of 5.7 per cent.

Keith Adams added: ‘With more than half-a-million people passing their driving test in the UK each year, there is no shortage of motorists looking for their first car. It can be a complex process getting to grips with insurance, road tax, knowing what to look for during a test-drive as well as the pluses and negatives of each car.

‘We advise everyone to do their research to make sure they end up buying a safe and legal car that’s perfect for their needs. Something like a Fiat 500 (below) might be really appealing, but unless you know what you're doing, you could end up buying a costly nightmare.'

Fiat 500 makes a great first-timer's car. But do your research!

Top tools to help buyers find a car that’s legal and safe:

Are you paying a fair price for it?

Visit the Parkers valuations tool for a fair, industry-leading figure: https://www.parkers.co.uk/car-valuation/

Does the car have a hidden history?

Is it stolen, has it been written off, or is there outstanding finance on it? https://parkers.hpicheck.com/

Is it MoT’d?

https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-status

What’s the MoT history?

Check to see what the car has failed on previous tests and what mileage it’s had over the years: https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history

Check if it’s been recalled

https://www.check-vehicle-recalls.service.gov.uk/recall-type/vehicle/make

How much do you know about car buying?