How thousands of drivers now choose a ‘sensible’ car

Growing numbers of motorists are being driven by their heads and not their hearts when it comes to choosing their new car, a new survey has revealed.

The findings show that drivers are no longer swayed by cars with great looks or a stunning colour, preferring instead to opt for value and reliability.

More than three-quarters (77%) of UK drivers say that buying a car that is reasonably priced, fuel efficient, reliable and easy to fix is more important than how it looks, according to the new survey from GAP insurance provider InsuretheGap.

More than half of drivers say they believe a car is now ‘just a set of wheels that gets me from A to B’, and are not bothered about its looks, sporting credentials or colour. It’s thought the recent cost of living crisis has intensified drivers’ needs for lower costs and guaranteed reliability.

The findings show how 81% of motorists carry out meticulous research before buying a new or second-hand car, including checking its fuel use, safety and general reliability record. Drivers in London (88%) and the East of England (86%) are most likely to do this research, but even where it’s less common, the numbers are still high – 76% in the South West and 75% in Scotland.

The growth of the Internet over the last 10 years has meant that car buying customers know exactly what they want when it comes to getting their next vehicle. Online advice sites and ‘chat rooms’ provide a lot of useful background information about car makes and models while motor dealers now expect customers to arrive at their showroom with a print-out of what they are looking for.

And one part of the research that drivers carry out is clearly deemed to be very important – the car history check. Three fifths (60%) of respondents said they always carry out a history check on a car to confirm its mileage, previous owners and whether it has been stolen, involved in an accident or written off.

And it’s more popular among younger motorists – 76% of under-34s do this, compared with 51% of the over-65s. Significantly, more people in London (75%) carry out history checks compared with the UK average.

They are looking for reassurance of the kind that MotorCheck’s £9.99 ‘Single Check’ can provide: it covers vital items such as identity, finance and mileage checks along with information on the number of previous keepers, whether the number plate has been changed, and if the car has had a paint respray.

“Choosing a car is a big decision for most people and requires a lot of research to find the one which is right for you, at a good price,” says Ross Callander, from InsuretheGap.

“The cost-of-living crisis is likely to mean that the majority of drivers will be even more concerned with making sure they get value for money over how the car looks.”