Buying a car? Get the best insurance deal
Sales of new and secondhand cars are rocketing, despite the economic gloom that is cloaking so much of the country.
New car registrations topped 142,300 in April, up by more than 3% on the same month in 2011.
More than 705,000 new cars have been sold already in 2012, and experts predict the number for the year as a whole will be just shy of the 2million mark.
On top of this, the secondhand market remains defiantly buoyant. Sainsbury's Bank says 8.3million people plan to buy a car between March and August 2012, a startling 17% jump on the same period last year.
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Buying a car means sorting out insurance, of course. Many manufacturers and dealerships will try to sell you insurance when you buy, but it is always important to shop around to find the cheapest quote. MoneySupermarket's car insurance channel will help you find out what's on offer from the UK's leading providers.
If you are in the market for a car, you might also need a loan - and MoneySupermarket can help here too, by comparing the best loans on the market. As a guide, if you wanted to borrow £15,000 over three years and are a homeowner, you could access the Sainbury's Bank 5.9% APR fixed rate deal.
You'd pay £454.61 per month and pay back a total of £16,366. You'd have to have a Nectar card, though. Marks & Spencer has a loan at 6% APR fixed, meaning you'd pay back a total of £16,389 on a £15,000 loan, but you'd need to be over 30 as well as a homeowner.
A two-year loan of £5,000 would attract an APR of 7.6% with Sainsbury's Bank or RateSetter, meaning you'd pay back a total of £5,392 - again, conditions would apply.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says the most popular models are family cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corse and Ford Focus.
But it has also seen increased sales in the executive and sports car sectors, suggesting that people across the spectrum are taking the plunge and buying a new motor.
We ran some research at MoneySupermarket.com to gauge which are the most popular new cars in various price brackets.
For "entry" level cars up to £11,650, the Ford Fiesta was most popular. Up to £16,500 it was the Vauxhall Corsa and up to £33,500 it was the Vauxhall Astra. At the top end it was the Mercedes 'C' Class.
We also found that drivers were achieving deep savings by shopping around through our site. For example, our typical best price for the Fiesta was £380, slashing £195 off the price if you don't shop around.
The typical best price to insure the Mercedes was £560, some £360 less than the non-shop around cost.
The type of car you buy will have a big impact on how much you pay for your insurance. All cars are allocated into one of 50 groups by the insurance industry according to their value, performance capability, cost of repair, attractiveness to thieves and built-in security.
You can find out which group any car is in by checking the details on Thatcham's website. The basic rule is, the higher the group, the higher the insurance premium. So when choosing your car, this can be a handy way of finding out how much your annual insurance bill is likely to be.
Whatever car you are buying - off a garage forecourt or privately from another individual - it is essential that you have cover before you get behind the wheel, even if you're just driving the short distance home.
The government has introduced the Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme which means that, if you are caught without cover, you'll get an automatic fine and could end up in court.
If you want to consider your insurance options but need a bit of time, you can take out a short term policy for a day or longer. It's easy to do online via MoneySupermarket's panel of providers.
Another option if you are buying a brand new car is gap insurance. This is in case your car is written off, at which point a normal insurance policy would only pay out the market value.
As new cars depreciate in value significantly the moment they are driven away from the dealership, there could be a big difference between the policy proceeds and the amount you would need to replace your car. This is plugged by the gap insurance policy that tops-up your main policy.
The surge in demand for new cars is attributed in part to the number of new models coming onto the market.
But according Steve Baillie, head of loans at Sainsbury's Bank, the recession is actually contributing to the increase in sales: "We reckon that over three million people are looking to change their car to reduce the costs, either cutting down their engine size or switching from a petrol car to a diesel one to reduce overall fuel and road tax costs."
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.