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Car Buyers Guides

Advice and helpful tips to help you make an informed choice.

  • What do I need to know when buying a car?

    Buying a used car can mean getting a great deal, but it’s important to know what you’re buying. Carrying out all of the checks listed below before you buy means you should avoid any surprises, so you can relax and enjoy the drive.

    What to check on the Car’s Exterior

    • Check for inconsistencies in the door shut lines, signs of a re-spray or body filler; it could indicate accident damage.
    • Ask the dealer to put the car on the ramp and check for rust, damage, leaks and wear.
    • Check lights and windscreens for chips or cracks and wiper condition.
    • Check alloy and tyre condition to ensure legal minimum 1.6mm tread depth.
    • Check window and sunroof seals for cracks or leaks. If it's a convertible, check the roof.
    • Check any exterior modifications (e.g. any spoilers; trims) have been made by a reputable company.


    Things to look at under the bonnet

    • Check the oil is clear. A milky substance on the cap could indicate engine damage
    • Check for visible signs of wear e.g. the cam belt..
    • Check the engine hoses for any leaks or signs they have been getting very hot.

    • Check fluid levels.

    Car Interior

    • Check the electronics work, including air con, heater and lights.
    • Check seatbelt condition and that the seats adjust and fold properly.
    • Is the interior excessively worn? The age and mileage may be higher than reported.
    • Check the condition of the spare wheel and that tool-kit items are present.

    Vehicle Paperwork

    • Check the V5C logbook against the vehicle and owner and consider an HPI check (vehicle history check service). This ensures the vehicle is not stolen and that there is no outstanding finance.
    • Request details of any tracker systems, alarms and the radio code.
    • Verify MOT, service history and any manufacturer warranty. There are lots of helpful websites you can use to check MOT status.
    • For electric cars, ask about batteries and check how much life they have left.
    • Confirm how many sets of keys come with the car.

    What to think about when going for a test drive

    • Has the car already been started when you arrive? A warm engine can mask issues.
    • Check all interior buttons and technology work.
    • Do warning lights show up on the dashboard when the car is started or in motion?

    • Take a test drive on a variety of roads for at least 30 minutes.
    • Consider performance across gear changes, uphill, on bends and when braking.
  • Electric vehicles – the future of motoring?

    Buying an electric car can both be exciting and daunting. As well as the usual pre-purchase research, when it comes to electric cars here’s a handy checklist of the types of things you might need to consider.

    Before you buy your electric car

    • Find out what you can afford and remember not all finance options support electric cars, so check.
    • Do your homework. There are lots of online forums  specifically for Electric Cars and information sites that can help you identify questions to ask the dealer.
    • Consider your options – would a fully electric car, a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid best suit your needs?
    • Look at manufacturer websites for the different models and specifications available.
    • Check out dealer websites for any special offers.
    • Check whether any grants are available for charge point installation.

    During the test drive

    • Request an extended test drive, for a day or two. That way you can test the range of the car you’re testing compared with the manufacturer’s specifications.
    • Familiarise yourself with the dashboard, so you can see how the battery runs down.
    • Does the actual range of the car meet your day to day needs?
    • Test the car fully loaded and with passengers if that’s how you intend to use it.
    • Switch on all the electrics – radio, air con, satnav – to check battery depletion.
    • Drive as you would normally.

    After the test drive

    • Find out how easy it is to charge the battery, try it yourself and check whether you can do this at home.
    • Ask about any warranties or battery lease schemes.
    • Check the battery life and replacement costs.
    • On a used vehicle, check service history, mileage and wear and tear, but also how the battery has been charged. Regular rapid charging will deplete the battery faster than standard charging.
    • Are you comfortable that the dealer will be available to provide good after-sales service?
    • Don’t be rushed into a decision. Go home and consider carefully and, if in doubt, ask to repeat the test drive another day.

    Not sure which borrowing option is right for you?

    Take a look at all the options available to you through Lloyds Banking Group. 

    Find out more
  • Your car – it’s all in the detail

    Once you've decided on the type of car to suit your lifestyle, there's a few more things to consider before you head out to buy.

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    Paint and trim

    When choosing a colour, selecting something popular such as black or white may help with resale value; neutral colours have been safe choices for the past few years. It's also worth thinking about how the interior colour will complement the exterior. For interior trims, hard-wearing materials are advisable.

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    2 or 4 wheel drive?

    Whether you pick front, rear, or all-wheel drive will depend on your car usage and driving style. Front wheel cars can understeer, and rear wheel drive cars can oversteer, so it's worth doing your research on the pros and cons of each type.

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    Internet connectivity and Bluetooth, in-built satnav, advanced audio systems and self-parking technology are among the latest must-haves. Choosing the right ones will mean your car is more desirable when you come to resell it. Decide which ones suit the type of car you are buying, for example, parking a large SUV with sensors or a camera is much easier.

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    Consider legroom but also passenger comfort, and whether the boot space is sufficient for you both now and in the future. Golf clubs, shopping, pushchairs and prams – will they fit?  Flexible seating can allow you to configure the vehicle based on changing needs. 

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    Enhanced safety features give you peace of mind, especially if you’ve got children. Airbags, in-built warning devices and anti-lock braking help to keep you and your passengers safe.

    car gears graphic


    Whether you choose manual, automatic or semi-automatic is down to personal choice and the type of driving you do. If you drive long distances or around town, an automatic can give you an easier driving experience. A manual car makes a driver feel more connected, and could be a wise choice to retain value in certain sports cars.

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    Most manufacturers offer traditional petrol and diesel engines, with a trend to smaller engines with a turbo boost for increased fuel efficiency. Cleaner hybrid powertrain technology is increasingly popular, or for driving around town a pure electric car could be a cost-effective option

  • Drive a better deal

    You don’t have to be a master negotiator to get a good deal on your next car purchase. Follow some golden rules and you will soon be driving your dream car off the forecourt.

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    All Cars

    • Make sure you know your finances. Before you head out, Log on to Internet Banking and take a look at our handy finance calculator to find out what you can afford.
    • Research will pay off. If you know there are other deals available elsewhere, you'll be in a stronger position to negotiate.
    • Don’t be afraid to offer a lower amount than you’re actually willing to pay. All sales negotiations start like this, and the dealer will be expecting you to.
    • Have three prices in mind – the price you would love to pay, a good deal and the most you’ll pay.
    • Take your time over your purchase – it’s a big decision. If you need time to think, ask to take away the paperwork and study it at home. You can always visit the dealership the next day to seal the deal.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for extras to be included in the deal. You are spending quite a lot of money with the dealership so sometimes they will be happy to offer something to keep you as a repeat customer. Items you could ask about include free servicing, a tank of fuel, car care kit, free insurance, extended warranty, free valets etc.
    • If a new design is due to be released shortly, you might be able to negotiate a deal on an older design.
    • Check the timing of new deals such as free insurance or breakdown cover.

    Used cars

    • Start your bidding low. You should expect a bigger discount from the sales price compared with a brand-new car, especially if it´s a private sale. 
    • Deduct the cost of sorting out any issues you´ve identified during the viewing and test drive from your estimate of market value. 
    • Some dealerships may offer great deals on part-exchanged vehicles that aren’t their brand so consider this before selling your existing vehicle privately. 
    • If you are buying a convertible car, buying out of season may allow you to find a better deal.
    • If the car needs a new MOT or service soon, get this included in your purchase price.
    • If you are buying privately, get a signed receipt for the purchase from the seller and check their ID.

    Electric Cars

    • If you’re buying a new car, consider any offers or incentives available. Some manufacturers and the government offer grants for vehicle purchase and charge point installation.
    • Whether new or used, do your homework, there are online forums that provide information on electric vehicles. There can be a big difference between manufacturer’s stated and actual battery range, just like traditional MPG figures.
    • Check out warranties and battery lease schemes.
    • Check battery life and ask questions about how the battery is normally charged. Rapid chargers can degrade battery life faster than standard charging.
    • Check service history, look for low mileage and obvious wear and tear, just like any other car.

Buying a new car can be exciting - how do I choose?

Making an informed decision will help you save on unnecessary expenses further down the line. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right car for you.

Before you buy your car

  • Find out what you can afford. Log on to Internet BankingLog on to Internet Banking to use our calculator and work out the monthly payment over a term that suits you.
  • Visit the manufacturer's website to review available models, specifications and options.
  • Ask friends or family for advice and check online forums/social media for user experiences
  • Having a budget in mind and sticking to it will stand you in good stead when negotiating.
  • Check the dealer website for offers.
  • Prepare any questions for the dealer.

During the test drive

  • Adopt your usual driving position. Can you see the instrument panel clearly and reach the controls?
  • How easy is it to get into and out of the car?
  • Drive on different roads to check its handling in different conditions.
  • Try reverse parking so you can check for blind spots and maneuverability.
  • Have a go as a front and rear seat passenger to check roof height and leg-room.

After the test drive

  • Try loading the boot for size and fold the seats to check available space.
  • Get the dealer to open the bonnet and show you how to top up oil and water and check the boot for tools.
  • Ask the dealer to show you how gadgets like satnav or self-parking work.
  • Ask the dealer about warranties, service packs and battery life.
  • Take your time to decide. If you can, repeat the test drive another day or borrow the car overnight.

Car Finance Plus

Whether you’re looking for Hire Purchase (HP) or Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), Car Finance Plus can help find the right option for you.

Car Finance Plus

Finance that fits

When you've picked your perfect car, it's time to find the right finance for you. Explore your options with our video guides.

Important legal information

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