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Beat buyer’s remorse by doing your research

A new study reports that more than a third of car owners are dissatisfied with various aspects of their vehicles

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A new study reports that more than a third of car owners are dissatisfied with various aspects of their vehicles, with most of those who are unhappy thinking about changing their car as a result.

The research, from insurance company Churchill, underlines the importance of properly researching a car before spending thousands of pounds or locking into a four- or five-year car finance contract.

The data was gathered from a survey of around 1,500 British motorists in June 2023. It claims that 73% of this dissatisfied group said that they would even consider changing their vehicle as a result. Young drivers are more likely to have regrets; with over half rethinking their purchase; with 88% of this group considering changing the car.

Regrets about vehicleNumber of owners who regret their purchase
The car is too small17%
The car uses diesel fuel15%
Dissatisfaction with the car model15%
Issues with the car’s power14%
Issues with the drive quality13%
Specifications (such as colour, extras, features, interior)12%
The car is too big12%
The car uses petrol fuel11%
Source: Churchill Expert

The drivers who registered their buying regret were also asked to explain why they are unhappy with their car. 29% of these respondents were unhappy with their car’s size, while another 26% were unhappy with their choice of fuel to power the vehicle.

Choosing the right vehicle was also a significant issue, with 27% of motorists not happy with either the specific model or specifications chosen.

A few hours of time could save you thousands of pounds

This data highlights the importance of properly considering your budget and needs before starting to look for a car – something we tend to bang on about a lot at The Car Expert. In addition, a proper examination of the vehicle and a decent test drive are key factors in making sure you’re happy with the vehicle before signing your life away on a very expensive purchase.

Far too many car buyers rush into a purchase without properly considering their budget and their needs, and how these are likely to change over the next few years. Buying a car isn’t just about what you’d like right now, but what you’re going to need for the next four to five years of ownership.

We have loads of useful consumer advice on our site, covering every aspect of buying and financing a new or used car. A great place to start is our Ten Golden Rules for buying a car. If you’re planning to finance your next car (and most people are), then you should definitely spend time looking through our car finance advice, starting with How to understand a PCP car finance quote.

In terms of which car to buy, our award-winning Expert Rating Index pulls together more than 15,000 car reviews from all of the UK’s top motoring sites, using a sophisticated algorithm to rate and rank vehicles of every size and price bracket. We also collate key data for safety, emissions, reliability and running costs so that you can make an informed decision about your next car, and find other similar models that might better fit your needs.

Understanding affordability

As well as choosing the right type of vehicle, you need to keep your budget firmly in mind.

While you may have enough money to cover a deposit and initial monthly payments right now, you also need to be confident that you’ll be able to keep up your finance payments every single month – regardless of whatever other expenses you may have along the way.

Our research from late last year found that the average car costs more than £200 a month to run (on top of your car finance payments). That covers fuel, insurance, servicing, road tax, parking fees and so on – and could be a lot higher if you live somewhere like London.

If you run into affordability problems down the line, it can be difficult and very costly to try and get out of your finance agreement. So it’s crucial to crunch your numbers carefully, before you start looking for your dream set of wheels.

Short-term options and subscriptions

If you’re not completely sold on committing to a particular vehicle for the next four years or so, there are increasingly popular options that may suit. Short-term leasing and car subscriptions are growing rapidly in popularity, and may be a suitable solution for your needs.

Car subscriptions allow you to lease a car for as little as a month, or allow you to change the vehicle regularly if your needs change. For example, you may need a van for work over the summer but want a family car for holidays over winter.

They also allow you to try a vehicle for a few weeks or months to see if it’s the right one for you. This is particularly helpful if you’re thinking about making the switch to an electric vehicle, but you’re not sure if it’s going to suit your needs. If it doesn’t work out, you’ve saved yourself thousands of pounds over having to cut short a lease or PCP.

Subscription fees can look expensive, but they are usually all-inclusive of servicing, road tax and other costs – and often include comprehensive insurance as well – so the total monthly spend is often similar to what you’d pay on a lease anyway.

The Car Expert is the best place to find all the information and advice you need when it comes to car subscriptions. It could be just the thing for you!

Additional reporting by Stuart Masson

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Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.