Choosing Your First Car

Everyone remembers the first car they owned but more importantly they remember the first car they ever drove, be it their own or that of a driving instructor.

With more learner drivers owning their own vehicles nowadays, there are some things to look out for should you decide you want to buy a car to learn to drive in. Many people prefer to buy a car – usually a second hand car – and learn in that. Becoming comfortable and familiar with a vehicle helps to boost confidence and improve driving skills. Indeed it is said that people sometimes fail their driving test because they have taken it in a car that is unfamiliar to them.

What Size Car?

Some say, it is better you start off in a small car. The advantage of driving a small car is that they are sometimes easier to handle that some of their larger counterparts – although with power assisted steering these days, that is not always the case. Many new drivers do find the distance from windscreen to the end of the bonnet, or even the distance from the driver’s seat to the rear bumper in a large car makes them more difficult to park.

The advantage of learning in a larger car, is that you will become familiar with that size of vehicle. Many drivers who learn in a small car are afraid to move up a size or two and the choice of car they own or hire in the future is restricted.


If you are going to spending a lot of time in your car learning to drive then it needs to not only be comfortable and manoeuvrable but also economic to run. Given that most learner drivers learn within the confines of a town or city centre environment there will be a lot of stopping and starting required – hence more fuel used.

A smaller car is potentially likely to be more fuel efficient (less weight to lug around) so you should get more learning hours for your money.


Again Insurance is an important aspect of any vehicle and if you are learning to drive then it should be noted that your insurance will automatically be higher than that of a fully qualified driver. In addition the size and type of vehicle you have will also have a bearing on the insurance premiums, as to will the location at which the vehicle is kept and whether the vehicle has an alarm system or not.

When buying your car – and again it is normally a given that as a learner driver your car will be a used car – it is worth asking which insurance group the car falls under and if the vehicle comes fitted with an anti-theft device. Most insurance companies have a comprehensive list of the anti-theft devices fitted to most cars and can tell you how much you will save if your car has one fitted.


It is important to take into account how much additional money you will need to spend once you have purchased your car and the cost of insurance and road tax are essentials.

Road Tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) is based upon the car engine’s CO2 emissions, so the higher the CO2 emissions the more you will have to pay. You can purchase a valid tax disc to last either six months or one year. Vehicle Excise Duty starts from £0 and increases to over £400 – noone wants to be hit with an road tax bill every year, so do your homework before you buy!

If the vehicle has been off the road prior to you purchasing it, a Statutory Off-Road Notice – known as a SORN – may have been issued. You will need to ensure that the vehicle’s registration document (V5) is up to date and that it is taxed and insured before you take it out on the road.

If you are going to learn in the car you are buying, it is best to avoid cars which may be classed as ‘sporty’; there are three reasons for this:

A moderate to high performance vehicle will attract a much higher insurance premium
There is an increased chance of it being stolen (particularly by joy riders out for a thrill)
You may be tempted to drive faster in a high performance car and statistics show that inexperienced drivers (particularly young males) are more prone to accidents caused by speed

Before buying a used vehicle to learn to drive in, consult family members and friends about what they learnt in – and when buying a vehicle make sure you have someone with a reasonable knowledge of motor vehicles with you.

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