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Buying your first car can be a very exciting experience, as it ultimately opens up a new world of freedom and independence. However, it's easy to get carried away and not think about the amount of careful research and decision-making that goes into buying a car – it's not simply a case of finding a nice car and buying it, you have to consider tax, insurance and servicing as well. As long as you understand what goes into the process of buying your first car, you should be able to breeze through and enjoy your newfound freedom.

What kind of car you need. It may sound obvious, but the first consideration is probably the most important one. Don't just go for the car that looks best, as many people are tempted to do. Think about the area you live in - will you need a smaller car for easy manoeuvring and parking? Also think about how much you're willing to pay. When you factor in the costs of insurance, tax and servicing, you may find that you want to go for a second-hand car rather than a brand spanking new one that costs a fortune. There are many good car publications that offer both advice and good deals.

Servicing and Registration. If you do decide to bag a bargain on a used car, then servicing will be very important as it's not likely to be in such great condition as when it was first bought. Getting a registration test can be fairly cheap, and is really essential to make sure you have nothing to worry about.

Car Tax. In some countries, you are legally obliged to get vehicle tax for your car, for which you will receive a tax disc to display in your windscreen. If you don't remember to factor in this additional cost it could come as a bit of a surprise.

Insurance. Like car tax, insurance is a legal requirement for car owners. The costs can initially be quite high, particularly if you are a newly qualified driver and under 25. However, if you do your research you should be able to find some reasonable car insurance quotes from a variety of flexible companies. It's also worth checking online - some companies offer a discount when you get a car insurance quote from their website.

So although the process is not as simple as it perhaps should be, once you've got your head around the various costs you'll have to consider then buying your first car should be painless and fun.

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