After a house, a car is the biggest purchase that most of us will ever make. Almost 50 million people in the UK hold a driving licence, so the car-buying process is one that most of us go through from time to time.  With more than two million new cars and around six million used cars purchased every year, vehicle sales are also a major contributor to the UK economy. 

Such a major purchase is clearly something that should not be taken lightly, and we spend an average of three months agonising over the buying process. Here, we take a look at three important questions that you need to ask yourself to make a perfect choice.

1. Why do you want to buy a car?

You will never buy the perfect car if you are not clear about why you need it. Most people have a specific reason that has triggered the car-buying process, from the practical (for example, your current car is too small for a growing family) to the frivolous (for example, you want something flashier and faster than your next-door neighbour).

The key is, to be honest with yourself. It's your money, so if you want a two-seater sports car because you are going through a midlife crisis, that's absolutely fine. But don't pretend that you have some other motive, or before you know it, you will have stumbled into buying something that you didn't really want.

2. What is your budget?

As we mentioned earlier, a car means serious expenditure, and it does not end at the agreed purchase price. You also need to factor in road tax, insurance, fuel and running costs – not to mention periodic servicing and replacing consumables such as tyres.

It is only too easy to stretch yourself to the very limit with a finance deal to buy the car of your dreams, only to find that you cannot afford these additional costs. Prepare a budget based on the entire cost of owning and running the car over the course of the year and you can't go wrong.

3. What do you actually need?

We have established why you want a new car, but now is the time to get real and look at what you actually need it to do. What sort of mileage will you be covering? Will you be carrying passengers? Will you be doing a lot of motorway driving? These are just a few of the questions.

For example, if you had your heart set on that two-seater sports car, and your driving needs are limited to social and pleasure trips at the weekend with your partner, then why not go for it? On the other hand, if you are expected to do a school run three times a week, or will need it to do the family shopping every weekend, then it is clearly not going to be practical.

Be honest with yourself

The above three questions might sound obvious, but you would be surprised by how many people are unclear, evasive or just plain kidding themselves on all three. Be honest with yourself, and you will end up with the perfect car to meet your wishes, your needs and your budget. Good luck, and enjoy your new car! 

What to consider before buying a car