How to research your new car purchase

There’s no shortage of places to read up on any car you may be considering buying, but some are more useful than others.

Some publications are never critical because they’re worried about upsetting advertisers, and even those who are critical may not be balanced because they’re out to entertain rather than inform. This is why it’s so important to research as widely as possible and get a feel for how well regarded any car is; owners' forums are usually the best place to start.

Don’t go out and buy a car on the strength of what professional road testers have written about it

If you can narrow your potential purchases down to a shortlist, it’ll help you settle on the best car – but make sure you try a range of models before committing to a purchase.

Whatever you do, don’t go out and buy a car on the strength of what professional road testers have written about it – car reviewers often have a different set of personal circumstances and requirements from those who read their articles, and what suits them might not be right for you. Obviously our new car reviews are written with you in mind specifically, but you might have a really weird set of priorities…

Once you’ve taken into account the elements in the What to buy section, you can narrow down which cars you’re interested in. Because there are two peaks in the new car market (1 March and 1 September), dealers are run off their feet trying to prepare and deliver all these new motors. Buy outside these periods and you should get a better price as well as a more personal service.