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Fuzz Townshend’s Guide to Buying Your First Car

By Fuzz Townshend

Don’t be bewildered, be wise. Buying your first car armed with knowledge will help you to make the right choice.

The time has come for you to enter the world of car ownership, so it’s likely that your first consideration will be your budget. This may not be as straightforward as it seems, because having a car at your disposal can be achieved in numerous ways. It’s time to consider what you are going to be using the car for, and if ownership is the right way forward.

For town and city dwellers, ultra-low emission zones may be in force, which might limit the field of practical vehicle choice to those which comply with the regulations, with an almost inevitable push towards the more expensive cars in every class. Ditto those wishing to avoid tailpipe emissions.

It’s wonderful having your own space on your daily commute, but do take into account the real costs involved, as in addition to the purchase price of a car, there will be the costs of insurance, tax, fuel, parking and servicing. These can dwarf the initial price tag.

Carefully research insurance fees and conditions for your desired car, before looking for a vehicle, as you might find this aspect more difficult and costly than you may have first thought.

Read reviews and take test drives. If buying from a private vendor, use a pre-purchase inspection service for peace of mind and take time to investigate the car’s service history. A car with a comprehensive service history is more likely to be in decent order, but it’s no guarantee.

It might be the case that a lease package will prove advantageous, giving access to a more modern, emissions-compliant car, along with a servicing package, thus reducing eye-watering ‘surprise’ bills.

It’s almost inevitable that your field of choice will reduce as you hone in on the car type that will suit your lifestyle and it’s at this point that I’m going to say ‘stop’! Why on earth would you want to ‘buy’ a car?

Rural dwellers will inevitably have a more compelling reason to own their own car, with a dearth of public transport and taxis. But for town and city dwellers, where public transport, taxis and the like are more readily available, not to mention e-bikes and other two-wheeled options, my suggestion would be to swerve ownership and embrace modern life with all its benefits.

Online shopping reduces the need for the ‘big shop’ and reduces congestion and emissions. Home working, where possible, similarly reduces the need for the daily commute which, if necessary, could be achieved by cycling part, or all the way, interfacing with rail or bus travel for longer journeys.

I’m no killjoy however, because, if you don’t need a daily driver type car, you might find it possible to own a fun, ‘weekend’ car, perhaps a convertible or even a classic. If this idea doesn’t float your boat, car hire is an option, as may be the use of services such as Uber and the like.

Car ownership can be fun and liberating, but it can also be a pain in the proverbial. If you consider ‘why’ before ‘which’ you can be more confident of making the right choice.

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Tyre Size Guide

The normal width of the tyre
The aspect ratio, this mark represents the height of the tyre sidewall
The diameter of the tyres inner rim in inches
Load capacity of the tyre
The maximum speed for this tyre at full load