New or used? Petrol or diesel? City car or sedan? Choosing a new car can quickly approach a real obstacle course. What are the right questions to ask yourself when buying a car and the points on which to be particularly vigilant?

If for some people the purchase of a car is a particular pleasure (for example when it is a vintage vehicle or a sports car), for most motorists it is above all a question a means of transport that meets their requirements while being as inexpensive as possible, both to purchase and to maintain.

Thus, whether it is a question of changing vehicle or buying a first car, it is important to take into account the use you will have of it on a daily basis in order to find a car that is really adapted to your needs as well as to your budget.

Buy a car that suits your needs

One of the first things to take into account when buying a car is the use you can have of it on a daily basis, more precisely the nature of the journeys you will have to make.

  • If you only make short daily trips , for example to get to work, it is often unnecessary to pay a lot for a powerful or imposing car. Opt for a small city car whose purchase price will be reasonable and with which it will be easy to move around, especially in town. For city dwellers, opting for an automatic gearbox can also be interesting for a more comfortable drive.
  • Conversely, if you regularly make long journeys , check the consumption of the car you want to buy, which can quickly become expensive when the kilometers pass. It will also be wise to think about certain options at the time of purchase, such as the presence of a GPS or cruise control, which can be invaluable for these long journeys.

Focus on city cars

city ​​car

City cars (Renault Clio, Dacia Sandero, Citroën C3, etc.) are mainly suited to city driving. With an average length of 4m, they can easily be parked in urban areas, although their use is not limited there. Even more compact, mini-city cars (Smart Fortwo, Renault Twingo, etc.) are often equipped with reduced turning radii to facilitate city driving, but have a restricted passenger compartment and trunk, to be taken into account when buying. ‘purchase.

A car for the whole family

When buying a car it is often necessary to take into account the needs of all the people who will regularly travel inside it and not just those of the main driver.

For a family with children, it will be reasonable to opt for a spacious car such as a minivan, taking advantage of more space to comfortably accommodate the little ones while having the necessary volume to carry the necessary luggage when the time comes for the holidays.

Focus on minivans


A very trendy segment since the 90s, compact minivans (Renault Sénic, Volkswagen Touran, etc.) are among the cars best suited to families, often available in 5 or 7 seats. For young couples, city minivans (Citroën C3 Picasso, Toyota Verso, etc.) or minispaces can prove to be an interesting, less expensive alternative.

young driver

Choose your first car

Once the sesame of the driving license obtained arrives the moment to buy its first car . For many young people, it is not always easy to navigate among the many models on offer and the budget, often reduced, imposes some sacrifices.

Consequently, young drivers will be advised to opt for a second-hand car, which is generally less expensive to buy, although care must be taken when choosing the vehicle so as not to lose this advantage in terms of repair costs. Avoid cars that are too old or rare models.

When buying your first car, it is wise to anticipate the cost of auto insurance that will be mandatory to take out so that it can circulate. You should know that the premium for a young driver is automatically increased, costing much more than that of a normal driver. Thus, opting for a new car or a powerful car can be a bad idea since it will be expensive both to buy and to insure.

Buying a car within your budget

Even for entry-level vehicles, buying a car is a big expense. While there are certain financing aids (scrap bonus, conversion bonus), for many buyers it is often necessary to take out consumer credit to become the owner of a new vehicle.

Representing 9.9% of annual household consumption in 2015, the French transport budget continues to climb year after year. The cost of buying vehicles, new or used, was thus up 5.8% in the same year, more than any other item of household expenditure. (source: INSEE)

However, it is possible to stay within the limits of your budget by taking the time to compare the differences between the models. If the cost of purchase is often an important factor of choice, the cost of maintenance or fuel consumption must also be taken into account.

The different categories of cars

Should you buy new or used?

In general, a used car will cost less to buy than a new car . Under cover of a great deal, beware of unpleasant surprises (mechanical problems, hidden defects, etc.) whose additional cost can quickly wipe out the savings saved by opting for a second-hand car.

In 2016, the average price of a new car was €25,828, up €720 (+2.9%) compared to the previous year. (source: Argus)

If it will cost more initially, a new car will be much more advantageous to maintain. Indeed, with mechanical parts with a limited lifespan (timing belt, shock absorbers, tyres, etc.), a used car will have a higher maintenance cost than a new one from the moment of purchase. This is all the more true since a new vehicle is covered from the purchase by the manufacturer’s warranty (generally for 2 years).

Namely that in terms of auto insurance, the used car will generally be cheaper to insure, intermediate coverage, even third party being sufficient. Conversely, it is generally recommended to opt for all-risk insurance for a new car.

Petrol or diesel… or electric?

Petrol or diesel? A question that many buyers ask themselves but which has no obvious answer… Less expensive to buy than a diesel car, a petrol car will be more expensive overall at the pump, especially than a diesel has lower consumption. Besides that, the vehicle will often be more expensive to repair, the cost of spare parts being higher.

Note that a diesel vehicle will be 10% to 15% more expensive to insure than a gasoline vehicle.

What about electric cars? Promoted to individuals by the existence of the conversion premium, electric vehicles remain among the most expensive cars, although prices are gradually falling. It is the maintenance, less restrictive than for a thermal car, which gives the advantage to these ecological vehicles.

Before buying a car, it is essential to take the time to test drive it. Whether the purchase takes place in a dealership or from an individual, the test is very important to check the exterior and interior appearance of the car. Depending on the faults or surprises that can be observed during the test drive, it is sometimes possible to negotiate the purchase price to get a better deal.

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