your first car

most people develop a strong emotional attachment to their first car, one that endures long after that vehicle itself has floated off to the big scrap yard in the sky. to ensure that the emotions you feel when you think of your very first vehicle are based on affection and not hatred or distrust, there are a few important issues that you need to consider.

your first car

All car buying decisions, in the end, come down to money. You can only buy what you can afford. As a first time car buyer it's unlikely that you'll have a huge amount festering away in a Swiss bank account but spend what you can without over-stretching yourself.

As much as your heart is drawing you towards that big V8 saloon or sleek sports car, your head should always be reminding you that cars are expensive to run. In many ways, it's after you've bought the vehicle that the bills start mounting up. Go for a small car with a small engine, you'll get good fuel economy, pay less road tax and insurance premiums will be low.

There will be older, bigger, high-performance cars on the market at seemingly bargain prices but remember, these vehicles have a vigorous thirst for fuel and if something goes wrong it's likely to be expensive to fix. Steer clear of modified cars too. Body kits and spoilers may look nice but they make the vehicle more difficult to sell on and engine modifications can increase your insurance costs.

You can usually pay less for a car by trawling through the small adds and making a private purchase but this may not necessarily be the best course of action. In a private sale, vehicles are usually 'sold as seen' and that means you've got no comeback should some serious mechanical failure occur on your way home. For peace of mind motoring, its best to go to a reputable used car dealer. There you'll get a car that has been selected, inspected and prepared for sale before you buy it. You'll usually get a warranty too and a full MOT will be the norm.

Once you've made your purchase, it's important to maintain the vehicle properly. There are some procedures you can carry out on your own and others for which you'll need help from the experts. It's important that you regularly check your oil level - topping it up, if need be with good quality oil. Tyres need checking too, make sure that they're all properly inflated (including the spare wheel) and that there's plenty of tread. Also, check the water levels (radiator and screen wash) adding anti-freeze during the winter months and maker sure that the lights are clean and working. Other than this, get your vehicle regularly serviced by a quality service centre. Good regular maintenance will protect against more serious problems developing further down the line.

The general message seems to be one of choosing your car carefully then maintaining it properly. That way, you'll get the most out of it with the minimum of hassle and expense.