Buying a car this summer? Here's what you need to know

  • Making the most of the sun by getting out and buying a new car
  • This Parkers guide will help you avoid the potential pitfalls
  • Plenty of links to tools around the site to make life easy

No-one like traipsing around a used car garage in the pouring rain or taking an anxious test drive on an icy road.

Summer is definitely the nicest time to buy a car, whether new or used. Plus lighter evenings make it easier to visit showrooms in the week.

That said it can still be quite a stressful process if you’re not prepared. Luckily Parkers is on hand to give you all the knowledge you need.

We’ve written a list of essential tips that you’ll want to read and memorise if you’re planning on parting with cash this weekend.

Check our reviews before parting with cash

The first step in buying a new car is working out what you want. The Parkers Review section has comprehensive evaluations of all the major models to help sort out the good from the bad.

Once you’ve found a car you like it’s just a case of working out which specification you want, and whether you prefer petrol or diesel power.

Diesel cars generally cost more to buy and fuel than petrol ones, but they get more miles per gallon, hold their value better, and are usually cheaper to tax. If you do a lot of miles then it could be the better bet for you.

You can use the Parkers Car Comparison Tool to work out which equipment grade suits you best in terms of price, kit and engine performance.

Once you’ve done that, check out whether your dream car will fit your budget by using the Parkers Cost of Motoring Tool.

It takes everything into account from depreciation to servicing and fuel costs, so you can see and compare which cars fit your monthly bills.

Now you’ve got the car, engine and spec nailed down, see if you can find any deals that are relevant to your requirements. Our latest Deal Watch is a good starting point, and from there make sure you check out our Cars For Sale section.

If you're considering finance, visit our car finance section for a simple, affordable and trusted service allowing you to finance the car you want at the best possible price.

Next up you need to visit a local garage to see if you like the way it drives. Remember to take all the things you’ll need to carry in it with you, including pushchairs, golf bags, and cycle carriers.

Check everything before going to the dealership

That of course includes the family, as you’ll need to make sure they are comfortable in the passenger seats and have enough room.

If you’re happy with everything so far then it’s time to take a test drive. It might sound like an obvious thing to do but it’s also vital, because you’re going to have to drive it frequently and any mild annoyances on a short test drive will add up to big problems later on.

Make sure you like the driving position, the locations of the controls and how the car feels to drive. Remember, you could own this vehicle for several years at least.

If you’re looking at a used car make sure you get a go when the engine is cold. If it’s been slyly warmed before you arrive it might hide all sorts of issues.

Also look for scuffed wheels and bumpers that might hint towards more serious damaged underneath the skin.

While driving select a high gear at a low speed and press the accelerator. If the engine gets louder but the speed doesn’t increase then there could be a problem with the clutch.

Perform a slow turn with the wheel turned all the way left and then right. If you hear any knocking or vibration then it could mean worn driveshafts or CV joints.

On a clear road brake firmly to check if the car stops in a straight line. It’s vital that the car’s brakes work properly as this could be a major safety issue if they don’t.

Always have a test drive

Everything good so far? Excellent. Next up you need a history check to make sure there isn’t any outstanding finance, and that the car hasn’t been previously stolen or written off.

It’s an easy thing to do, just visit the Parkers Car History Check section and enter the car’s registration number. Outstanding finance isn’t necessarily a deal breaker providing you know about it in advance, but it’s worth bearing in mind the finance company will have an interest in the car until it’s paid off and they could chase you for the money.

If you’re buying used then now is a good time to check all the paperwork. First up is the V5C registration document which shows who the car is registered to. Make sure the registration number, colour and chassis number match the car, and do the same with the owner’s name and address.

Check the MOT test certificate and whether a full record of servicing has been kept. The better you look after a car, the better it looks after you.

Next it’s time to talk money. Make sure you visit our Valuations section to get an up to date price list that will help point you in the right direction.

Never be afraid to walk away

All you have to do is put in the car’s registration number (or the make and model) and we’ll work out how much you should pay for it.

Once you’ve started haggling, it’s important to remember that you can always walk away - you shouldn’t feel pressured to make a decision there and then.

If you’re considering buying your new car on finance, make sure you visit our finance section for a quote - we work with over 21 lenders to give our customers access to over 100 different lending options.

Finally there’s just the issue of what to do with your old car. It’s easier to part exchange it against the new car but you could get more money if you sell it yourself. The Parkers Valuations section will help again here in getting you an accurate price for your old car.

Need more help? Maybe the below articles can help

Twin test: spacious small cars

Our favourite new cars under 10k

Our top five economical estates

Top family friendly people carriers

Top five insurance friendly crossovers