Buying a new car
In addition to the price quoted by a car dealer, you must normally pay for number plates (£25) as well as the cost of delivery (which averages an extortionate £450). Options for payment (other than paying the full fee straight up) include hire purchases schemes. For example, on a 50-50 scheme, you pay half the cost of the car and can drive it for two years, at which point you can either pay the remainder of the fee or return the car.
Nearly-new and used cars
An easy way to save money when buying a new car is to buy an old model that is about to be (or already has been) replaced by a newer model. Alternatively, you may decide that a used car is better value. If you choose to buy a used car, you must ensure that it has all necessary documents (e.g. to prove it is not subject to a hire purchase scheme, as in this case the original lender can legally demand it back). It is also worth getting an expert to ensure that the car is in good mechanical condition, and you should definitely take it for a test drive before handing over any money.
Buying used cars is one of the few occasions in the UK when you are expected to haggle over the price. With the right technique you can often gain huge discounts. A good source for finding used cars for sale is the online car “supermarket” Carcraft (www.carcraft.com).
For those of you only wanting a car for a short period, then your best option is to rent a car. There are literally hundreds of companies that offer car hire services. The biggest companies include Avis (www.avis.co.uk), Budget (www.budget.co.uk), Europcar (www.europcar.co.uk) and Hertz (www.hertz.co.uk). All of these companies have offices in towns and cities across the country, as well as in most international airports.
To hire a car in the UK you will need to have had a full British, European or International driving license for at least one year (or two years if you are aged under 23).