New motor in March? 20 things you should know

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From 1 March, new vehicles sold in the UK will sport ‘17’ registration plates.

This annual event (there’s another batch of new plates in September) triggers a surge in car sales – both new and second hand.

So given that cars will be front of mind for many of us in the next few weeks, we’ve put together 20 top tips and fascinating facts to consider when buying or selling a new motor.


1. Putting it on a plate

France was the first country to introduce number plates – the UK introduced them in 1904. In 2008, Abu Dhabi business man Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri paid £7.25 million for the ‘1’ plate, which adorns his red Rolls Royce.


2. Getting ready for driverless cars

By 2020, it’s estimated driverless cars will be freely available in the UK. Tests carried out on major roads show that driverless cars typically cut journey times by up to 11%.

The government has just announced plans for driverless car insurance that will protect pedestrians and other road users. Drivers would invalidate their policy if they modified their vehicle or failed to carry out an upgrade required by the manufacturer.


3. PCP, PCH and HP… pardon?

Car finance jargon baffling you? You’re not alone.

A personal contract plan is where you pay a deposit on the car, followed by monthly payments based on an agreed mileage. At the end of the agreement, you can either hand the car back, refresh the deal with another car, or pay an additional lump sum and fully own the car.

Personal contract hire is simply where you hire the car for a stated period, again with agreed mileage limits.

With hire purchase, you spread the cost of buying the car over a number of months.


4. Prevent car depreciation

Most cars lose around 50% of their value in their first three years of ownership, but getting your car serviced regularly and keeping it on record can support its resale value.


5. Brexit vote increases car prices by 5.2% on average

What Car? Reports how, since the UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, the average prices of some cars has been on the increase. For example, the Volvo XC60 model, previously costing £36, 943, now costs £41,676.

** Average all-segment OTR retail price increase percentage from June 2016 compared with January 2017.


6. Found your dream second hand car?

MyCarCheck allows you to check the validity of any car, and will identify if it’s stolen, written-off, or has any outstanding finance. It’s a worthwhile tool if you’re thinking about handing over a large lump sum to a private seller.


7. Manual or automatic?

Automatic cars are ideal for those prone to stalling or dislike having to manually change gear – however they also come with a costlier price tag. But if you’re OK with spending up to £1,500 more for an automatic, you’ll be doing the environment a favour, too, as they’re more fuel efficient.


8. New tax rules: environmentally AND financially friendly

Vehicles registered from 1 April 2017 will fall under new vehicle tax rules. The new rules have been determined by CO2 emissions, and largely work in favour of eco-friendly cars, as those with zero CO2 emissions will have zero tax to pay!


9. Telematics

Telematics is a great way to lower your car insurance cost, especially if you’re a young driver. It works through a GPS system linked to a device fitted to your car or an app on your phone that sends information to your insurance company, so it can monitor your driving.

This is great for those who generally have a low yearly mileage, and if your car ever gets stolen – its tracking system will help your vehicle be found. What’s not to like?


10. Petrol or diesel?

If you live in the city and drive a diesel car – the stop-start motion can clog the diesel particulate filters, and the high levels of nitrous oxide which are emitted does not work favourably for city-dwelling, so a petrol car is a better, environmentally friendly option.

However, if you’re more inclined to the countryside or your driving route rarely involves congestion jams, a diesel car could be beneficial and its torque used to its potential.


11. or Hybrid?

A hybrid vehicle combines a petrol-powered engine with an electric motor – which kicks in to provide extra power when needed. It’s a more efficient method of car power, however getting your head around the science behind the mechanisms can be a bit tricky.

The Toyota Prius is a popular choice and is known as a ‘plug-in’ hybrid – put simply, its batteries can be charged from a public charge point, which are popping up across the UK.


12. What are the running costs?

Avoid any nasty surprises by working out your potential new purchase’s running costs. Check possible fuel consumption and insurance premiums so you know what you’re financially committing to.


13. Should I consider a pre-reg car?

A pre-registered car is one that’s registered to a retailer rather than a person. A dealership is then technically the car’s first owner on the registration document.

Pre-registered cars are therefore a great option if you’re looking to nab yourself a deal. Since the vehicle technically has a previous owner (the dealership), it can be sold at a lower cost.

Just be wary on the day of purchase that the dealership transfers the ownership registration over to you.


14. What’re some of the cheapest cars to insure?

Skoda Yeti: average annual price £227.86

Fiat Qubo: average annual price £270.19

Citroen Berlingo: average annual price £301.13

Kia Venga: average annual price £301.42

Citroen Nemo: average annual price £313.91

Data collated between July 2016 – Dec 2016, from cars in insurance groups 1 -3 and manufactured from 2006 onwards. Based on car insurance quotes run on MoneySuperMarket.


15. What can affect my car’s insurance premium?

Factors such as age, occupation, driving history and where you live can all affect how much car insurance you pay.

Ultimately, the car type and being claim-free are the big players. You can prevent paying more than you have to be ensuring your car isn’t modified or taking a Pass Plus test.


16. London’s tackle on air pollution

Economically unfriendly vehicles in London will face a ‘T-Charge’ (emissions surcharge) of £10 to drive in central London, and will come into place by October.

The Mayor has also proposed in 2019, the Ultra Low Emission Zone will be introduced to central London, and then expand it to the North and South Circular. This is estimated to reduce NOx emissions in central London by 50%!

Another push towards tackling London’s air pollution problem, is a proposed fund to scrap 70,000 polluting vans and minibuses in London.


17. The best time to buy a used car

A great way of bagging a bargain vehicle, is to understand the best times of year to make a purchase. Car salesmen work to meet targets which are often based on quarterly sales – which usually occur at the end of March, June, September and December.


18. Taking your car on holiday?

When on holiday, the freedom to relax and travel as you please is often essential, so taking your own car with you might be an option. If you’re venturing outside of Europe, you’ll need to obtain an International Driving Permit. Similarly many car rental companies will also request you present this permit should you decide to hire a car.


19. Avoid common car scams!

There are some tell-tale signs to help identify if your potential car seller is in fact, a scammer. We have a thorough break-down of what to look out for in our buyer-beware guide.


20. Car safety’s come a long way

Thatcham Research recently demonstrated just how far car crash testing has come in the last 20 years. A Rover Metro and a Honda Jazz were both crashed into a barrier – the 1997 Rover was wreckage, to the point where any occupants would have serious life-changing injuries. The Honda Jazz, however, was nowhere near as badly damaged, and any proposed passengers would have left the car with minor bruises. The Rover was selected to take part in the test as it was a top-selling car when the Euro NCAP programme first launched.

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