Life Moments

Buying your first car

7 tips for buying your first car

Buying a car is exciting and a big life moment. Whether you’re looking to buy outright, save up for it or use the bank of mum and dad, there are many things to consider. To help you make the right choice we’ve put together some key tips to follow when buying your first car.

1. Set a (realistic) budget

The best way to work out your budget for your first car is to look at your outgoings vs your incoming payments. From there work out how much you could realistically save each month.

Once you know where your money goes, it will be a lot easier to take control of your finances and plan for your big purchase. It's imporant to factor in all the added costs along with buying your car. First car insurance policy isn't the cheapest!

2. Do your research

Once you know what you're able to afford you can start looking for a cars within your ideal price range. 

Online car traders and websites help you browse different models. And you can set specific filters - like price - to help you find your dream car.

3. Don't get taken for a ride

It's important to be well informed and prepped when viewing your potential first car. Here are some tips on what to ask or look out for: 

  • Check for any damage (internal and external)
  • Are all the documents in order? 
  • Test drive the car - does it drive OK? 

4. Finance and purchase options

Different types of finance can work in quite different ways, so it is important to understand exactly what you are committing to. Here's a run through of some of the car financing options available


5. Negotiating a better deal

According to the Money Advice Service research, 64% of those who tried to negotiate when buying a car were successful. So don't shy away from a little haggle when buying a car. 

Read some tips from the Money Advice Service on how to haggle the price of a car here

6. Making a purchase

Once you’ve found your dream car and agreed a good deal, the next step is paying for it. Use a traceable method when paying for your car and get a receipt then you’re ready to go.

7. Driving away in your car

In all the excitement, don't forgot to ensure that all requirements are in place, such as car insurance, MOT and road tax. It's against the law to drive without these.  

It can also be quite daunting driving your first car and if that's the case you could consider using  ‘P’ plates  on your car so you enjoy your drive with little fuss and worry. 

Saving for your first car

Want to save for your first car? Our range of savings accounts and financial tools could help you on your way.

Keep track of your finances

Keep an eye on where your money’s going each day with easy to read categories with our Spending feature on the mobile app.  

You must be aged 16+ to view Spending. Only available for Personal and Premier accounts.

Get started and start saving

From flexible instant access to longer term fixed rate savings, explore our savings page to help you find an account that suits your needs.

Individual account eligibility criteria and conditions may apply.

Reach your savings goal

People who actively use our savings goal tool, save twice as much as those who don't. Try our demo, then log into Digital Banking to add a new goal to your savings account. 

Available to existing customers with an eligible savings account.

Get the App

The Savings Goal Tool is a feature within our mobile app and Digital Banking that helps you understand how much you need to save to reach your savings goal.

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Get the app

The Savings Goal Tool is a feature within our mobile app and Digital Banking that helps you understand how much you need to save to reach your savings goal.

Get the app

The Savings Goal Tool is a feature within our mobile app and Digital Banking that helps you understand how much you need to save to reach your savings goal.

Some running costs to be mindful of


Most cars usually run on either petrol, diesel or electric motor powered by a rechargeable plug-in battery.


An annual safety check to make sure your car meets all the legal requirements. If the car passes the test it is awarded a certificate valid for 12 months.


There are usually three levels of car insurance – third party, third party fire and theft, and comprehensive. It's illegal to drive without insurance.


The price of car tax will depend on a number of things, including your car’s engine and fuel type and the amount of CO2 it emits.

Frequently asked questions

Already a car owner?

If you already own a car or looking to buy another one, visit our 'Tips for car owners' page which will have you covered from MOT reminders to car financing options and more. 

Is there something else you're looking for?