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Eleanor Richards profile

Eleanor Richards

October 30, 2017

Owning a car Young driver stories 7 min read

If you’ve been following my posts for Marmalade you’ll probably know by now that I’ve entered into real life employment for the first time and will be aiming to buy my first ever car after a few glorious paydays have happened.

As I’m constantly reminded now that I’m an adult, nothing in life is free; Unfortunately, this certainly goes for cars too. So naturally cost is a big thing I’m thinking about when considering buying my first car, but there are several other factors as well. Therefore the purpose of this post is to provide a bit of guidance for other first time car buyers and evaluate what the most important things are to me.

Do I need in-car tech?

Personally, when thinking about the basics, I don’t require much in terms of technical gadgets in my car. All cars come with an auxiliary cord connection now, so there’s always going to be somewhere to plug in your phone – whether to charge it, use the satnav, or listen to music. A built-in satnav would be an advantage, but to be honest those sticky things you can buy to attach your phone to the dashboard don’t exactly cost much. I’d rather save money on a built-in satnav and keep it tucked away for petrol money or insurance – something I’ll touch on more a bit later.

Is bigger actually better? Does colour matter?

Some people choose to spend extra money on the colour of the car; personally again that doesn’t bother me. If I was being really picky I’d want a neutral colour like black or silver, but so long as the car wasn’t a horrible lime green or neon pink I’d still drive it… well, truth be told I’d still drive it no matter what the colour!

Another factor I’m considering about what car to go for is the space – both inside and out. I think for practicality sake I’d prefer a five-door to a three-door, but a fairly small one. My parallel parking isn’t the best it’s ever been (in fact I’ve probably only done a handful of them since passing my test five years ago!) so a small car would be preferable. Or – as my flatmate has just informed me about – a self-parking car! I’ve only really seen them in movies but if they are in fact a thing as she assures me they are then a self-parking car is 100% something I would look for!


Sadly though, cost may prevent me from owning my very own self-parking car.

The cost of running my first car

Speaking about insurance, this is going to be roughly the same amount on whichever car I choose. As long as I don’t go for something ridiculously powerful or fast then the insurance cost should be fairly consistent – this is what I’ve been led to believe anyway. I will look for the best new driver insurance deals and see what I can find!

I think I’d prefer a petrol car to a diesel one because of two reasons:

  • They’re initially cheaper to buy
  • They’re more economical for short, traffic-laden journeys – sadly what I’d be using the car for most days.

Also, I just find petrol slightly more reliable than diesel, although I’m not really sure why. Perhaps it’s because petrol cars have always been around and always functioned, while diesel is still a relatively new thing when you think about it. Either way, I think when it comes time for me to make the purchase, I’ll be buying a petrol car.


Should I buy a brand new car or a second hand one?

And that brings me onto my next point – the cost of buying the car itself. With this, there’s really only one big question: brand new or second hand?

Buying a brand new car

First of all you buy a brand new car, straight off the production line, from a well-known and reliable retailer. This is undoubtedly the best car you will buy as it has all the guarantees, proper paperwork, and more information than you could even want. But it all comes at a cost. A big one.

Buying a second hand car

 – From a dealership

You can also get second hand cars straight from a dealer and in my opinion this is the best option. The car is cheaper because it’s second hand, but it’s also trustworthy. The dealer will have made all the necessary checks and gone over the important paperwork with you too. It’s safe and cheap, my ideal combination.

– From a private seller

Then there’s the classic: ‘Saw that car on the side of the road for a couple hundred quid, parked it in my drive the next morning.’

We’ve all seen those cars advertised on the roadside, independent owners just wanting to get rid and move on. While the low price is a huge attraction, you could end up spending more on that car than imagined. This could be due to the lack of checks carried out and simply having to go on the seller’s word for how well it runs. For me, even though I’m desperate to save money I wouldn’t go with this option, unless I really knew who I was buying the car from; I just don’t think it’s worth the risk.


The final decision

Overall I think all of the above factors are important when choosing your first car, but I also think there’s an element of just knowing what feels right. I think it’s very important to do a test drive before buying something as who knows how different you may feel once behind the wheel. We’ve all found ourselves at one point in our lives being disappointed by something we thought we really wanted and sadly I imagine getting a new car could be the same. So take note of the engine, the mileage, the interior and even the colour, but also take note of how the car makes you feel.

If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right for you.

Finally, just to close off this post I thought I’d share with you my top three cars that I’d love to own once I can afford to buy one!

  1. VW Golf: This is the car I learnt to drive in and therefore is just the car I feel most comfortable in control of.
  2. Mini Cooper: I think there’s something about my generation loving the mini cooper. When I was at school everyone in the 6th form had them and ever since then I’ve always fancied myself behind the wheel of one.
  3. SEAT Ibiza: It’s new, it’s sleek, it’s stylish. It’s a car I’d love to own.
Eleanor Richards profile

By Eleanor Richards

'I've been driving since I was 17, luckily passing my test first time and I really enjoy the freedom driving gives me. I don't currently have my own car but I am looking to buy one within the next year!'  See more posts by Eleanor

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