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Life Moments

Buying a car

7 tips for buying a 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 a car.

1. Set a (realistic) budget

The best way to work out your budget for your new 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 important to factor in all the added costs along with buying your car. 

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 going to view a 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 a car you've just bought 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. 

Ready to make the move to electric?

You could reduce your carbon footprint and save money by switching to an electric vehicle (EV). The UK Government is also bringing forward the ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 to 2030.

Could this be the time to make the switch to an EV?

Saving for a set of new wheels

New or used, first car or upgrading, we have a range of savings tools to help you get behind the wheel.

  1. 01

    Set up a savings goal

    On average, customers save twice as much when they save towards a goal. Get ahead of the game and set-up a standing order to save a little each month too before all your bills come out. 

    Our savings goal tool is available to existing customers with an instant access savings account. Mobile App criteria applies.

  2. 02

    Make saving as easy as spending

    Let your bank do the hard work for you by rounding up your everyday spending to boost your savings. When you pay with your debit card, the amount will be rounded up to the nearest pound, sending the spare change straight into your savings account.

    Save your spare change with Round Ups

    Check out our very own Round Ups tool to find out how we can help you save for your new car. Available to customers with an eligible current account, an eligible instant access savings account and the Mobile App. Applies to debit card and contactless device payments in sterling only. Mobile App criteria applies.
  3. 03

    Keep track of your spending

    It's so important to stay on top of your money. Understanding what you're spending and where can help you identify areas where you can reduce your outgoings and save more. 

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    Spending and Budget Tracker

    Our Spending feature within the app tells you everything you need to know, from categorising your spend to surfacing personalised insights. You can even set budgets to help keep you on track. Spending is available to customers aged 16+ with a Royal Bank of Scotland Personal or Premier account.

Some running costs to be mindful of

Fuel

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

MOT

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.

Insurance

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

Tax

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.

10 ways to help you save

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?