Getting behind the wheel for the first time is an exciting moment in every teenager’s life. Even more so is owning your first car. The first car is always special; in many ways, it represents freedom and the transition into adulthood. It is also the car you should learn to drive in order to get your P Plates.
You’ve probably realised by now that your first car will be nothing like the race cars you dreamed of as a child. But no matter, getting your very own set of wheels is still a huge step-up from borrowing the family car.
As expected, your parents might be calling all the shots when choosing the best first cars. Nevertheless, it is important to take part in the selection process so you both arrive at the same decision. Here are some useful tips for landing a good first car.
Begin by Setting a Budget
As with every other big purchase, the first thing you have to do is set a reasonable price point depending on how much you are willing to spend. Discuss the budget with your parents if they are helping you finance the purchase. Alternatively, your employer might provide a vehicle allowance which can be used to purchase a car. You might also want to do some window-shopping to check out the sort of vehicles you can get at various price points.
The idea is not to overshoot or underestimate the budget, and, more importantly, stick to it.
While working on the budget, decide on the payment plan that is most convenient and affordable as well. It could be a bank loan, cash lump sum, or an instalment plan – whichever works best for you.
Calculate the Running Costs
In addition to the price tag, the true cost of owning a car includes maintenance, repairs, insurance, and fuel expenses. It’s one thing to get a reasonably priced vehicle, but you also have to consider its long-term upkeep costs. Good first cars should be cost-effective and cheap to run.
Consider cars with good fuel mileage, and that are easy to service and cheap to insure. Cars with such qualities also have good resale value because they appeal to a broad class of buyers. But this doesn’t mean the car must be dull; it can be both cheap and cheerful.
Considerations for Used and New Cars
Your budget will probably determine whether you are looking at a new or used car. So, this is often a predetermined choice from the start. There is nothing wrong with getting a used car as long as it fits the bill. However, you have to be very critical when buying a previously owned vehicle.
Some of the crucial things you have to consider include:
- The mileage on the clock
- Wear on brakes, tyres, upholstery, body, etc.
- Any observable damages, scrapes, and bumps
- Condition of the interior
- The paint job
- Mechanical integrity
- The car’s history
Assessing a brand-new car, on the other hand, is pretty straightforward because you would not expect to find any defects or damage. But in this case, you will have to take care of the vehicle’s registration, stamp duty, and any other associated processing fees.
Do Your Homework
Familiarise yourself with loads of useful details about cars before setting out for the dealership. Learn about the different models of vehicles within your price range, popular terms and car jargon, and the car market in your local area. Also, look up reviews to find out what people think and say about various car models and sellers.
Doing thorough research should enlighten you on what to look for. Plus, nothing will go over your head during negotiations with the car dealer, and you will be able to get your demands and points across more clearly.
Focus on the Important Details
Cars come with an assortment of bells and whistles, some of which are not really important in a teen’s car. Do not let the dealer upsell you unnecessary extras. Focus on the bare essentials such as safety, fuel efficiency, modest comfort and conveniences, insurance group, warranties, and durability.
Most teenagers care very little for features such as dynamic steering, automatic doors, and ample boot space. Meanwhile, all that parents want for them are reliable, safe cars that cost next to nothing. Somewhere in the middle of all that is the ideal car.
Although the point of a car is getting from A to B, you don’t have to trim it down to just a box on wheels. Have a stereo system, A/C, and a few exciting gadgets to enjoy some of the basic pleasures of driving. The point is to not go overboard with unnecessary add-ons at the expense of useful qualities.
Explore All Your Options
Don’t settle for the very first car that catches your eye. Take your time to shop around for the best deals you can find. Visit multiple dealerships, search online, and sift through various models until you have exhausted all your options.
Once you have sampled everything on offer that matches your criteria and price range, you can then start narrowing down on the individual cars. From there, it is only a matter of balancing preferences against the pros and cons of each vehicle to find the right one.
Take a Test Drive Before Closing the Deal
Insist on taking a test drive before buying the car.
A short drive can reveal a lot about the car, especially if it is a used one. If you cannot drive yet, ask your parent or a trusted driver to take the wheel as you ride shotgun. A road test gives you a firsthand experience and feel of a car. It demonstrates how a car accelerates and brakes and confirms whether all the gadgets and instruments work properly.
Whatever a car states on paper may be very different to what it actually does on the tarmac. The dealer may exaggerate some specs to make a sale, but a test drive lets you be the judge.
Once you are satisfied with the car, you can go ahead and close the deal. Remember that you can always negotiate the price down. You might be surprised at how flexible some car dealers can be when you really talk them down.
Get Some Quality Advice
Set your sights on a car you can actually afford. But the price alone is not the only consideration. Think about the lifetime upkeep of the vehicle, its features and specs, and its value for money. Being your first car, you will probably keep it for a couple of years. So, choose a model that is timeless but still captures that youthful spark.
If you’re unsure of what to look for, speak to your driving instructor while sitting through your next driving lesson. While they can’t exactly help you find the perfect car, they’re full of helpful advice and information that will help you find the best first car for you.