Main image for post: First-time car buyer's guide

So you're buying your first car - what are the most important things to take into consideration? You want something you can rely on, something that isn't too difficult to drive with little to no experience, but probably also something that will look good when you pull up to pick up your friends.

At cartime we put all of our used vehicles through rigorous mechanical checks and give them a full valet service too, so you know that they are in top condition inside and out.

Here are a few of the questions you might want to ask yourself when deciding to buy your first car, to help you get more than just a 'runabout', but a vehicle that will be a trusted companion for a long time to come.

1. What do you want?

You might be surprised by how detailed of an answer you can give to this, even if you have no previous experience with cars.

For example, you might already know if you want a petrol or diesel engine, or perhaps something more eco-friendly like a hybrid or electric vehicle.

You might also have an idea on whether you'd prefer a manual or automatic gearbox. Simple, small questions like this are usually covered in the summary of each vehicle listed on cartime, so it's a great place to start.

2. How new/old do you want?

Often when you buy your first car, you're on a tighter budget than later in life, but that doesn't have to mean buying an old banger.

Cars typically lose more value in their first year than in any one later year, so look at some listings for year-old and two to three-year-old cars and see how far your finances can stretch.

3. Do you want to buy on finance?

Some people prefer to buy their first car outright, and that's a completely fine personal decision, but again your budget may stretch further if you buy your first car on finance.

Hire purchase and personal contract purchase plans spread the cost of the car, which is ideal for new drivers who have a regular income but no lump sum saved up.

There will usually be a deposit - although cartime can help with that on some used cars for sale - and there may also be a lump sum at the end, if you want to own your car outright.

4. Do you need help with your credit rating?

If you have a bad credit rating, or just don't have much of a credit history, give us a call. We can't fix your finances overnight but we may still be able to get you a finance deal or hire purchase/PCP arrangement.

You can improve your chances by relying less on lending overall - so again, it's worth looking for the best deals on used cars in cartime's current listings.

5. Do you need more general help?

Our team is here to offer advice on whatever you need, so don't be afraid to get in touch - nobody's going to make fun of you for being a first-time car buyer, we just want to get you out on the road in a set of your own wheels.

We can even suggest specific makes and model of car from our current used car listings that we think are ideal for first-time drivers, so that you can start to feel more comfortable behind the wheel from the moment you drive away.