Tips on buying a new car in the New Year

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It might be an exaggeration to say that the Tiger is back but there is certainly a different feel to the economy as far as new cars are concerned. Business is good. In fact, compared to any year since 2007 business is very good indeed.

New car sales for 2015 were a very healthy 125,000 or so, and while that is still some ways off the boom years the signs are that the year ahead will be even better.

So there are lots of people looking at getting a new car who have never bought one before, or at least not for many years.

What should you look at when picking a car?

Cars are expensive; it’s a big investment. In fact, we calculate the cost of owning and running a car to set you back about €10,593.60 per year when all the costs are included. Decide on your budget in advance and be ruthless with yourself and stick to it. Do your sums before stepping foot in a showroom in case you over-reach yourself going for that shiny metal dream.

Petrol or diesel?

Lots of AA Members ask us this and it really does depend on your driving pattern. While motor tax and pump prices for diesel are cheaper than petrol, there is no point in buying a diesel car if its main purpose is to complete the short school run. You don’t get the full value from a diesel on short trips as the engine doesn’t get a chance to heat up fully. It really does pay though if you do long commutes.

In families we tend to think in terms of ‘her car’ and ‘his car’ which doesn’t actually make sense these days. Think instead in terms of ‘long range car’ and ‘short run car’. Petrol tends to be better for the latter, diesel for those long journeys.

Electric?

I’m a fan of electric myself and I really think it is the future. For now though it is a bit of a commitment and while running costs are great the purchase price can be high. Again, do some sums; tax a fuel usage are fantastic.

Gadgets & Technology

Car technology has moved on incredibly. Think of how different your current phone is to the yoke you had in your pocket 8 years ago. New cars will have hands-free, smart-screens, radar & parking cameras, and it may even park itself. All of which is very nice if a little bamboozling. Make the sales team earn their money by carefully showing you all of the car’s many features when you test drive it.

Once you are on your own though the most important thing is usually to ignore all the tech and concentrate on your driving!

Can I haggle when buying a new car?

You most certainly can and you should. The best way to buy a car is with cash and almost all dealers will offer a discount. If you are financing the car though, and most of us do, then there is a bewildering array of finance products to choose from including the car dealer’s offer. There is good and bad value so again no substitute for doing your homework, we don’t buy new cars very often so it pays to do the research.

Think of the ticket price as the starting point for a negotiation. It does help to know the car brand, model, engine size and trim level you’re interested in. Let the salesperson know that you are serious about buying, that you have shopped around, can get a better deal elsewhere and ask if they can do better.

Financing your purchase

There are generally three main payment options available to you: a personal/car loan, hire purchase or a personal contract purchase (PCP). If opting for the latter make sure you read all the fine print of what you are committing to, including final payment requirements and if/when ownership actually transfers to you.

Consider the likely resale value

Cars don’t hold their value terribly well but some are better than others. The car you buy now will probably become the car you trade in next time so that is another factor to bear in mind.

Where to buy?

Nowadays you can make a purchase from a car supermarket, broker and a traditional car franchise dealership. SIMI registered main dealerships do have the advantage of better after-sales and support so I would tend to favour them.

Legal rights

New cars can and do break down. They are very complicated machines and things do go wrong. It is important you ask about your dealer’s after-sale service, warranty and what mechanisms are in place if problems arise. You have rights as a consumer no matter what deal you sign up to.

Alternatives to buying a brand-new car?

Sometimes ex-hired cars can be good value, rather than a brand new car and typically would have clocked up between 5,000 and 10,000 kms. However, you might be limited if you have your heart set on a particular model or colour.

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