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Monday, 13 May 2013

A student's guide to car buying

Money is tight when you're a student, and we all know that loan day is a short lived celebration. Budgeting for big purchases can be a challenge when you're living on a student's shoestring budget, but getting a good price is possible if you know where to look. In this student's guide to car buying we prove that you can make a big investment, even on a student's budget!


It may be an alien concept to many students, but saving whilst you're still at university is a great way to start
preparing for after you've graduated. If you've got a big purchase in mind, like a car, for example, you can set yourself some monthly goals. We know this can be tough when there's essentials like beer and beans to buy, but you should set yourself up a savings account to make sure you divide the money up each month.

Saving for a car isn't as big of a challenge as it might sound, and you can get an affordable but reliable car for around £1000 or less. Setting yourself a realistic monthly goal will make your money easier to keep track of, and, for those of you with part-time jobs, you'll be able to allocate a portion of your monthly wage to your savings pot.

To make things a little easier, you could write up a breakdown of your current monthly spend in order to see where you can cut down on costs or cut them out completely.

Where to buy from

Second-hand cars are the best options for students, but you have to be careful when it comes to buying used cars, whether you're buying online, from a dealer, or from a private seller.


Make sure you check the vehicle's V5C registration certificate and the car's service history. You'll need to make sure that the registration number matches the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Check the service history book to ensure that the vehicle has been maintained and serviced regularly. You should also double check that the mileage listed on the service history matches the mileage displayed in the car.

HPI check

A HPI check is something which you can do online in order to check that the car has no outstanding finance and has never been in an accident. A HPI check will cost you a few pounds online, but it'll be worthwhile spending the money in the long run.


Make sure you check the vehicle's MOT certificates. You're able to check computerised MOT certificates online at Remember that an MOT certificate confirms that a car is roadworthy, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's a good investment. You should also take a look under the bonnet to make sure everything is in order, but if you don't know your dipstick from your engine coolant, you should take someone who does with you.

Test drive

You should take any car you're thinking about buying for a test drive before handing any money over. This applies even when you're buying online, so make sure you only look at cars close enough to visit.

Ask questions!

Finally, make sure you ask lots of questions! This applies more to private sales, but if they seem reluctant to answer your questions, give it a miss. Ask everything you need to know before handing any money over, and make sure you know what legal protection you're entitled to, whether buying privately or from a dealer.

This content was provided by the team at the British company helping learner drivers get on the road.