Last updated:
June 19, 2024
Written by
Claire Fürst

Gen Z Wheels: Smart Tips for Purchasing a Car

Ready to hit the road, but still figuring out which car to buy? When you’re buying your first car, some tips can be helpful. Whether it's choosing between new or used, understanding finance options, or managing running costs, we're here to try and break it down - so you can see which car is the best fit for you.

What’s the Price Tag?

New vs. Used Cars

So first thing is first, do you invest in a new or used car? The most important thing to consider here is your financial situation and what you like.

New Cars

As they are fresh and new, these cars will come with the latest technology and some snazzy features. Another bonus is that they come with full warranties. However, new cars also lose value quickly—this is referred to as depreciation.

  • They're more expensive initially but tend to offer peace of mind regarding maintenance and repairs.

Used Cars

These are generally more budget-friendly and less impacted by depreciation. What is important to consider though, is that with age, used cars may end up generating higher maintenance and insurance costs.

  • They're a great choice if you're looking for value, but you need to be comfortable with being a little more uncertain about the car's history.

Financing Your Ride: Let’s Break it Down

The most important consideration when exploring car finance options is your current financial health.

Let’s take a look at the different types of finance available offered at Ozoomi and the main differences of cost-spreading.

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP)

PCP finance agreements tend to offer lower monthly payments with flexibility at the end of the agreement - you can pay a larger balloon payment, part-exchange or return the car.

  • This can be the best way to finance if you want lower monthly payments and the option to switch cars every few years.

Hire Purchase (HP)

HP finance agreements are considered a more direct route to car ownership than PCP, as you'll own the car outright at the end of the payment term by paying a very small fee.

  • If you want to keep your car long-term without any mileage caps, then this could be the option for you.

Conditional Sale (CS)

CS finance agreements are similar to HP agreements - you make fixed monthly payments until the car is paid off. The main difference is that you become the legal owner of the car automatically once the final payment is made.

  • It is a more straightforward route to legal ownership of the car, without a final balloon payment or option to purchase fee.

For more information about legal ownership and your responsibilities of a financed car, check out our blog Understanding Car Finance: Ownership vs Registered Keeper.

Just a couple of things to consider

  • Deposits and Down Payments: Flexing a bigger deposit reduces your monthly payments and the interest you’ll fork out.
  • Additional Fees: Watch out for those extra costs like processing or delivery fees that can add to your initial costs or setting up a finance agreement.

Running Costs That Add Up

Insurance: A Must-Have

Car insurance is a legal requirement in the UK, and protects against unexpected costs in the event of accidents or theft. As a younger driver, you will often face higher premiums, so understanding what influences insurance costs—like coverage levels and vehicle type—can help you manage your expenses.

We have a breakdown of the key Car Insurance Options in the UK, as well as some great Tips To Reduce Your Car Insurance Premium, which are worth checking out to keep yourself informed.

There are loads of comparison sites out there to help you get an idea of the prices of different insurance cover types, and to weigh up your offers from different companies. You can be as specific as you like, so you should be able to get a pretty accurate figure.

Fuel Efficiency and Costs: Keep it Economical

Having an idea about MPG (miles per gallon) is a great way to estimate and potentially reduce your fuel costs and impact on the environment. MPG measures how many miles a vehicle can travel on one gallon of fuel.

  • High MPG: Vehicles with an MPG of 60 or higher, like compact cars and hybrids, are extremely fuel-efficient, ideal for reducing petrol expenses on longer commutes.
    • Of course, electric cars are the cheapest fuel-wise - as they replace this cost by being charged up instead!
  • Average MPG: Cars with an MPG between 40 and 60, common in modern sedans and smaller 4x4s, offer a good balance of performance and efficiency.
  • Low MPG: Larger vehicles and sports cars often have MPG ratings under 30, offering power at the cost of higher fuel consumption.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) might exceed 100 MPG in efficiency.

Hybrids, such as a Toyota Prius, typically achieve around 50 to 60 MPG.

Compact Cars, like a Honda Civic, range from 30 to 40 MPG.

4x4s, such as a Ford Explorer, usually manage about 20 to 30 MPG.

Road Tax (VED): Greener Choices for Better Rates

The Vehicle Excise Duty (another name for Car or Road Tax) is calculated based on CO2 emissions and other criteria like list price. As you probably guessed, the higher the CO2 emissions, the higher the tax rate.

RAC has a great rundown of what the different tax bands are and how they are determined.

Emission Zones: The Low-Down

When you get a car, you have to keep the emission zones in mind popping up in cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle (the list does go on, so be sure to check!). These zones aim to reduce pollution and include Low Emission Zones (LEZ), Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ), and Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

Low Emission Zones (LEZ)

  • LEZs hit older, more polluting cars (diesel and petrol) with fees, helping cities breathe easier. Vehicles that don’t meet the emission standards have to pay fees when entering these zones.

Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ)

  • ULEZs have tougher standards, charging daily fees for non-compliant vehicles. London’s ULEZ is a prime example.

Clean Air Zones (CAZ)

  • In CAZs, local authorities set charges based on vehicle type and emissions to clean up the air. To check the different rules and charges, you can take a look at site.

Driving a non-compliant vehicle in these zones can mean daily charges, which quickly add up. Choosing a low-emission or electric car not only dodges these fees but also cuts down on pollution. It is worth looking into the areas you drive in frequently to check the zone category.

Maintenance: Stay Road-Ready

The MOT is a legal yearly requirement for all cars over three years old, so it is important to keep on top of car maintenance for the best chance to pass and be deemed roadworthy. Of course, the main aim of an MOT is to make sure that your vehicle remains safe and operates properly - so it is in your best interest for it to pass, too!

If your car does not pass its MOT, there are going to be subsequent repairs or servicing that can add up quite quickly.

We have some Quick Checks You Can Do Before Your MOT to boost the chances of a smooth pass, as well as some advice on how you can Maximise the Life of Your Car Battery.

So, there's a bit to think about when getting a car, but breaking it down into steps can keep things chill. From picking the perfect ride to figuring out the best finance options, and understanding the running costs—each part helps ensure your car fits your lifestyle and budget without any stress.

An image relevant to the blog post

More insights for you

A slanting pager divider
A slanting pager divider