Passing your driving test is a huge achievement. If you’re holding on to a brand new licence, congratulations!

The freedom of being able to jump in a car and get to wherever you need to independently is a great feeling. Adjusting your seat and mirrors, tuning into your personal settings and always finding it all just the way you left it because it’s your car – even greater! But which car?

Buying your first car is major. Whether you’ve saved up for a long time, take a loan or visit the bank of mum and dad, your first car will always be special to you.

To help you with this next big step we put together some tips for buying your first car. You’ll want something that’s reliable and safe, but also cheap to run.


Make a checklist of what you’re looking for and set a hard budget. Don’t underestimate the cost of running a car – owning one isn’t cheap, so you need to budget for much more than just the purchase.

In most cases, you’ll have to pay car tax. If the car is older than three years, it’ll need an annual MOT test which might lead up to required maintenance. Your tyres will need replacing after a while. You’ll need fuel, which could become a high cost if you drive a lot. 

New or used?

If you have enough budget, go for a new car. It’s always safest to start with fresh parts and mileage, and a new warranty will cover the cost of any faults in the first few years. 

The new PCP deals (personal contract purchase) can make it cheaper to buy a new car on monthly payments than a used car with full payment. Most new drivers can’t afford a new car though, and there’s a lot to be wary of with monthly payment agreements – definitely watch out for the 0% deals, they’re too good to be true! 

According to the AA, your car loses value as soon as you start driving and by the end of the first year, you’ll have lost around 40% of its value, depending on how many miles you drive. 

So you could find something at nearly half off the new price after just a couple of years. Even after five years, the car will still have the latest tech and safety features so buying a used car is not a bad option at all – as long as it’s not too old.

It’s important to factor in the differences in costs of owning a certain car, especially if you buy a used one. The warranty won’t be as good as in new cars so the running costs could be higher.


You might just be concerned about getting from A to B, but the most important factor in choosing your car is how it will protect you in case of an accident. The newer your car is, the safer it is likely to be. It’s vital that you don’t drive a car that is outdated in safety features or unreliable.

You should look out for features like ABS (Anti-lock Braking Systems), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and AEB (Auto Emergency Braking) when you’re buying your first car.

Check out the European New Car Assessment Programme and see how the car you’re thinking to buy has performed in testing. 

Where to buy?

Finding a car to buy is the easiest part of the journey. You can find all your local dealers easily online, for both new and used car dealers.

For used cars, many people trust the good old Internet. Check your local Facebook groups, ask around, browse Gumtree and FreeAds for what’s on offer. AutoTrader holds hundreds of thousands of car listings on their website, and you can always search online for the best cars for new drivers.

Make sure you get the chance to test drive the car before buying it. Give it a good visual check and pay attention to all your paperwork.

Car insurance

The biggest concern for young drivers when buying a car is insurance. New drivers don’t have and NCD (No Claim Discount) yet which most insurer discounts rely on, so you could be looking at some very high premiums. 

Keep in mind the need for car insurance when choosing your car. Smaller cars with smaller engines usually cost less to insure.

At insurethebox we don’t just rely on NCD but the black box fitted to your car will tell us exactly how you drive so that we can personalise your renewal price.

Find out more about insurethebox car insurance here.