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New car Kia showroom lining up with the latest cars for the March '12' number plate

Make sure you understand what new car you are after, and that it suits your needs, rather than rushing into a 12-plate car this March, advises Tanvir


By Tanvir Nandra, IAM

Running a vehicle for business?

Don't leave yourself out of pocket - a guide to what you can claim.


THE new March 12 plate is nearly with us. If you’re thinking about a new car, what should you consider? The IAM’s Tanvir Nandra provides this advice.


AFTER buying a house, buying a new car will probably be the most costly purchase you’ll make. It’s not as easy as you think.

Don’t just walk into a dealership and pick up the car you’ve got your heart set on; shop around and negotiate.

March sees new car registration plates arrive across the UK – these will be the 12-plate – and the latest cars will be sitting in showrooms waiting for a test drive.

Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) rate cars according to how safe they are, from one to five stars, five stars being the top overall rating for safety. Use these ratings to find out how safe your chosen car is.

One of the benefits of buying a new car is it will have the most up-to-date safety features. Unlike buying a second hand car or inheriting an oldie, new cars offer features such as multiple airbags, crumple zones, anti-lock braking system, anti-skid technology, as well as being highly fuel efficient.

If you are using one for business, consider features such as sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity in your search.

You need to think about the type of car you want. What will you be using the car for? Is it primarily for you to use on business?  In which case are you planning to cover a lot of mileage? High mileage users would do better to look at a diesel, while if you are covering mainly shorter town trips a petrol car or hybrid might be better – remember, the diesel particulate filters on diesels can clog up if they are not driven long distances regularly.

The Chiswick Honda dealership with 12-plate cars ready for the first of March

Rather than buying, have you also considered personal or business contract hire?

Now you’re set on the car you want, how much can you afford to spend? It’s a good idea to factor in insurance costs and budget for the options you might want. Often, there are additional charges for number plates and delivery. Whilst you’re thinking about expenditure, you’ll need to organise how you’re going to finance the car. Are you putting in most of the money? Is someone else helping out?

Don’t forget depreciation. In the first three years, a car loses around half of its value and this will affect the value of your car if you intend to sell it. If that worries you, consider a personal contract hire lease where you lease the car for a set period of time and mileage, rather than buying it to own.

You have spotted the car of your dreams. It ticks all the boxes, you’ve taken a good look at it, you’ve smelt it and sat in it. But there’s one thing missing. You haven’t driven it. Take it for a proper drive and take someone with you. If you’re going to buy a car, all of your time in it will be spent driving and you need to know that the car is what you expect it to be.

Finally, enjoy driving your new car – with that ’12’ registration plate.

Previous article by the IAM’s Tamvir Nandra: Dealing with road hazards.

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