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Buying a car may well be the first large purchase you've made, and for many, it also serves as their introduction into the world of credit, auto loans and car finance. These are not the sort of subjects they teach at school, so without a bit of guidance, it can be easy to make mistakes. Follow these top tips and you should be able to drive away happy.

Avoid Leasing Deals

Car dealerships will generally try to steer you towards those leasing schemes that make them the most profit - sometimes known as PCH (Personal Contract Hire). Leasing can sound tempting, as it generally involves an attractively low monthly payment, which can be hard to resist when you're on a lower disposable income. However, these deals are a lot more expensive in the longer term. You will be paying thousands more than the list price of the car, and you won't even own the vehicle outright at the end without paying a final balloon payment. Plus, most PCH deals have small print putting limitations on your annual mileage and any damage to the vehicles. Buying the car through finance generally has higher monthly repayment amounts, so you may need to rejig your personal budget a bit. But you will at least own the vehicle after the loan is repaid and have an asset to show. If you can arrange to loan the money from a parent or use savings to have a larger deposit, you won't be subject to a high-interest rate either.

Go For A Used Car

Don't automatically think new. Brand new cars are a depreciating asset and you're losing money the moment you drive them - that's a big cost just for having the latest numberplate for six months! A new car loses at least 11% of its cash value as soon as it's sold. Instead, use a local to you dealer such as to find the best deals on cars with low mileage.

Time Your Purchase

If you absolutely must have a new car, then timing your purchase can save big. If you buy at the end of a quarter, dealerships are under pressure to meet sales targets and may be more ready to discount to get your business. And if there's a plate change coming, it's usually possible to secure a good price on a brand new vehicle with an ‘old’ plate.

Consider The Running Costs

The major expense of being a new driver isn't the car itself - it's the cost of things such as insurance. Aim to lower the cost by opting for a black box insurance scheme, which offers a data-driven price based on your own driving style, or by taking a pass plus course. It's also a good idea to make sure that the running costs of your car are affordable for you. Choose a model which is fuel efficient and offers no or low road tax. You could also consider taking out a service plan on the car to cover repairs and the general running.

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