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The ten golden rules for buying a car

Buying a new or used car? Follow these pearls of wisdom to get the right car at the right price.

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Rule 10. No car is perfect, and any car can go wrong at any time

It doesn’t matter what brand of car you buy, what length of warranty you have or how well the previous owner maintained it – cars can break down at any time, and it can be expensive when it happens. So don’t spend all your money buying the car, and then not have enough left for unexpected bills.

Of course, buying a brand new Honda is probably a better bet for reliability than an old Land Rover, but any car can get a punctured tyre or have a headlight smashed by a stone.

If you leave the ignition on to listen to the radio while you’re waiting to pick up the kids, the battery could well go flat. It’s easy to accidentally put petrol in a diesel car if you’re daydreaming at the pump. Modern car keys contain electronics that are not waterproof if you drop them in the pool/bath/toilet.

Any of these things will cost you money (and inconvenience).

When budgeting how much cash to flash on your next car, or how much you can afford to pay each month, you absolutely must have enough leeway to cover unexpected costs. Cars are complicated machines, with sophisticated mechanical and electrical systems operating in harsh environments.

Inevitably, they will go wrong at some stage. They always do.

Keep a large chunk of money up your sleeve to fix it when it happens, rather than crossing your fingers and hoping that it won’t happen to you.

The Car Expert ten golden rules - always have some extra cash
“Hi mum. Can I borrow some money for a new tyre?”

In conclusion…

If you’ve read down this far, you’ll have realised that a lot of the Ten Golden Rules come down to using common sense. But people get caught up in the car buying process and feel trapped by what is going on.

Follow The Car Expert’s Ten Golden Rules for buying a car and you will put yourself in a much stronger position. You’ll end up with the right car for a price that won’t break the bank.

This article was originally published in April 2015, and was most recently updated and improved in April 2021.


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Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.