Your first car
Nothing feels quite as liberating as buying your first car. Finally, you’ve become an adult responsible enough to get themselves from A to B in their very own vehicle; it seems that the world (or, at least, the world of paved road networks) is your oyster.
But before you get carried away with the excitement of having a car of your very own, remember that there are certain things to look out for when buying your new baby. Our checklist of eight things to things to keep in mind on the big day will have you covered.
As they say, safety first. Considering that driving a car is one of the most statistically risky yet monotonous, everyday things many of us will do on a daily basis throughout our lives, considering your car’s safety features now is a no-brainer. Safety trumps all and features like seatbelts, anti-lock brakes and side airbags are simply non-negotiable.
Research the safety rating of the car make you’re considering buying on safercar.gov and similar sites to make sure you’ll be as safe as can be in your new baby, and have it checked over and given the thumbs-up of approval by your own trusty mechanic – not the seller’s.
While well-constructed and well-maintained safety features will help lower your insurance premium, a lot of that also depends on the type of car you’re purchasing (as well as, of course, your driving behaviour and record). Keep in mind that insurance rates are higher for hybrids and other specialised vehicles, which make repairs more expensive, as well as larger vehicles.
Nothing provides peace of mind to a car buyer like a good, reliable warranty that covers you in case of defects under normal conditions of use and maintenance. However, as you’d expect, not all warranties are cut of the same cloth. New-vehicle warranties often include protection for paint rust and corrosion, air conditioning and battery. Research the standard car warranty for the vehicle you plan to buy and make sure you’re getting a fair deal.
This one is also a biggie – you don’t want to spend half (or more!) of your annual income on a car that is going to keep chewing through more and more money just to keep on the road. When buying your first car, it can be especially tempting to go for a second- or third-hand vehicle that’s seen a lot of miles and has the wear or tear to prove it, as you may think that it won’t matter so much if you add a ding or dent here or there.
But consider that the costs of maintaining and servicing old vehicles may actually make it an uneconomical purchase. It’s a good idea to get your own trusted mechanic’s input on this matter.
Another huge cost of owning your own vehicle is, of course, fuel. If you’re on a tight budget or low income, there is really no way of justifying the purchase of a car that guzzles more than you can afford in fuel, regardless of how big and flashy it is, and how badass driving it makes you feel. Taking the fuel efficiency of a vehicle into account – especially if you’re tossing up between two vehicles with a fuel economy rating of 5 miles per gallon or more – could save you hundreds every year.
your first car
These days, cars are practically computers, capable of all manner of things. From self-parking to in-car DVD players, GPS systems to iPhone auxiliary cables, the latest gadgets and appliances can help you not only drive but have fun while you do so. But how much of this stuff do you really need?
Certainly a GPS system is a great idea for anyone who plans on doing a lot of driving to unfamiliar and distant places. But additional features like DVD players might only be worth the expense if you’re going to be driving kids in the back seat around a lot. Weigh up what you want… and what you actually need.
It may feel somehow traitorous to already be thinking of giving your new car away before you even own it yourself, but remember that this is a big investment of sorts – possibly your very first major investment ever – and it is unlikely that you will be driving this same one forever. Though factors like mileage and the car’s condition when you go to resell it are very important, the maker of vehicle and amount of green features, for instance, can also affect the resell value.
[alert heading=”Author” type=”alert-success” block=”false” close=”false”]Richard O’Toole is a freelance writer and car enthusiast with a particular passion for Ford crossover SUVs. [/alert]