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 itâ€™s a long way from reality.
With that in mind, used car sales site Gumtree studied its listings to find the most common cars for under Â£1,000 – perfect for first-time buyers. The Ford Focus came out on top, with just over 30,000 examples listed for Â£1,000 or under.
Close behind it were the Vauxhall Corsa (28,300) and Vauxhall Astra (25,236).
Ten most common cars under Â£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 UKâ€™s best-selling car – the Ford Fiesta – also featured high in the list, showing that a modelâ€™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 Gumtreeâ€™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 â€“ and be relatively cheap. If your budget is Â£1k and under, itâ€™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 everythingâ€™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 driverâ€™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 hasnâ€™t been cared for. Be sure to look under the car for any leaks. And, for heavenâ€™s sake, drive the thing – itâ€™s amazing how many problems only make themselves seen or heard once youâ€™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. Itâ€™s also important to check the sellerâ€™s credentials â€“ 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.