First car buying advice – getting a grand motor for under a grand

First car buying advice – getting a grand motor for under a grand
First car buying advice – getting a grand motor for under a grand

The idea of swanning into a car showroom and picking whichever shiny new model you fancy is a nice one but for many new drivers it’s a long way from reality.

Especially when you take into account running costs such as fuel and insurance, a first car can end up having to be a budget option.

With that in mind, used car sales site Gumtree studied its listings to find the most common cars for under £1,000 – perfect for first-time buyers. The Ford Focus came out on top, with just over 30,000 examples listed for £1,000 or under.

Read more: Buyer beware as nearly half of used cars have hidden history

Close behind it were the Vauxhall Corsa (28,300) and Vauxhall Astra (25,236).

Ten most common cars under £1,000

Model No. listings
Ford Focus 30,216
Vauxhall Corsa 28,300
Vauxhall Astra 25,236
Ford Fiesta 22,127
Renault Clio 20,023
Peugeot 206 17,806
Volkswagen Golf 17,348
Ford Ka 12,386
Renault Megane 12,101
Nissan Micra 12,061

The UK’s best-selling car – the Ford Fiesta – also featured high in the list, showing that a model’s popularity makes for a bargain purchase a few years down the line.

For any first-time vehicle owner, buying a car can be a bit daunting so we spoke to Gumtree’s head of motors, Vik Barodia, to get some tips for how to pick a top runner.

Less is more

Your first car should inspire confidence, be safe and easy to drive – and be relatively cheap. If your budget is £1k and under, it’s not about the specs or fancy toys. As a rule with any vehicle purchase, always look for the lowest mileage and fewest owners to get the best car you can afford.

History is everything

Look for cars with plenty of history – service records, garage bills etc. A full service history is fantastic when looking to purchase any vehicle but at this price point not everything’s going to have a fully stamped book. With that in mind ask to see any related paperwork, take careful note of how the car has been cared for and make sure the vehicle is up to date with oil changes, brakes and general maintenance so your new car is in the best condition it can possibly be.

Do your due diligence

Buying a car is exciting. But it can also be stressful. To help you avoid getting your fingers burned, always do a full provenance (history) check on the car. This will tell you if the car has been stolen or involved in a serious accident. The national mileage register result on the history check will also give you clues as to whether the car has had the mileage tampered with.

Try before you buy

Perform some routine checks on the vehicle. Get in the driver’s seat, and see if all the car features work, such as electric windows, air conditioning and windscreen wipers. Walk around the car and look for mismatched paint and rust that could be a sign of damaged bodywork. Check the tyres for tread depth and lift the bonnet to inspect the fluid levels – low levels suggest a car with a problem or that hasn’t been cared for. Be sure to look under the car for any leaks. And, for heaven’s sake, drive the thing – it’s amazing how many problems only make themselves seen or heard once you’re moving.

Safety in numbers

If possible, take someone who knows what they are looking for when going inspect the car. Alternatively, get a pre-purchase inspection done for that added peace of mind and confidence. It’s also important to check the seller’s credentials – ask to see their driving licence with an address that matches a utility bill and the V5 document for the car. And always view the car at their home address or business premises – if they want to meet in a random unconnected location alarm bells should be ringing.

Read more: 

Top ten: bargain used cars

Bad news for Corsa drivers as used car warnings rise

Car Features Top ten: first cars

Interview: Gordon Shedden and Rory Butcher - family matters for touring car stars

They’ve known each other for years – since one of them was just out of short trousers – so they’re comfortable in each

What does my engine warning light mean?

Modern car dashboards are littered with lights warning or advising on various things.While some highlight one simple issue - such as low washer

Jaguar F-Type - thunder in the glens

A polite notice to anyone planning a trip to Scotland – don’t bother. It’s deadly dull, the scenery is awful and the roads

Do I have to tell my car insurance provider if I've had a crash?

Car crashes range in severity from minor parking bumps to serious collisions with wide-ranging and potentially fatal consequences.In accidents