Buying Your First Car

Jack Morris, Writer

As a brand new driver, it may seem intimidating when it comes time for you to buy your own car. The process of buying your first car can be exhausting, but however long it may take, it will be worth it in the long run. The feeling of being the true owner of any car is a sense of pride unmatched by anything that you’ll experience until you consider the feeling of buying a house. Therefore, it’s important to know a couple of things about cars and some specific tips to help you find your dream first car!


The main deciding factor on what kind of car you’ll be getting is cost. The reality is that for many high school students, the money that you and your parents are willing to put into a car isn’t much. The average high school student doesn’t have too much money laying around, and with the need to add a teen driver to an insurance policy, parents may not be the most motivated to drop a large sum of money on a first car. When adding a teenager to a policy, the average cost of insurance goes up 156%, and although your parent may want to help, they may only be able to help so much. Just to add to this, teenage male insurance rates are higher than female ones, so there are a lot of additional expenses you and your parents will have to consider when getting a car.


With that being said, in no way should you expect your first car to be a jaw-dropper. There is absolutely no shame in owning an older model Toyota, Subaru, or other reliable and functional car for you to use and call your own. If you take a look in the student parking lot, the majority of cars you’ll find will match that exact description, and if yours is adding to them that’s completely fine. Buying a car in a price range you can afford is nothing to be ashamed of.


With the issue of money out of the way, let’s get into some things to think about when considering your first car. Firstly, all car brands and even models are different. The year that the car was produced may also produce a drastic change. When it comes time to purchase your first car, it’s important to do some research on the brand, model, and year of the car you’re interested in. Check in with various sites (such as Kelly Blue Book, Car and Driver, Edmunds, etc.) for reviews on the car you’re interested in, and find out some commonly reported problems to have an idea of what you might need to spend to fix your car. Some car brands, such as Subaru and Toyota, are known for their reliability and long lifespan. Others, like Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz, are known for their luxury and style. It’s important to find where you stand in the kind of car you’ll be looking to purchase and find the perfect match to allow yourself to both have a nice car and actually enjoy and drive it. All cars eventually will experience some issues, so it’s important to have some money left over to keep your car running. Obviously, this is all in addition to the money you’ll need to fill up your car with gas.


Secondly, spend some real, good time to find your dream first car. This car is the one that you’ll remember for as long as you live, and it should be as good as one as you can find. In my case, I dedicated all of two whole days with my dad into finding my car and ended up with a beautiful 1989 Cadillac Eldorado with low miles for $3,300 (picture included). Using a good bit of time to look for deals on cars around you will absolutely assist you in finding the car that you truly want.


Thirdly, get yourself familiar with some “rules of thumb” about car buying. For example; when searching for used cars, you should almost always have a mechanic look over the car for any present problems and for any possible ones in the future. Another couple of things to look for in a used car is trying to find something relatively close to you (around 50-100 miles, depending on how far you’re willing to drive to look at a car) with low mileage (under 100,000 miles, as this is when most regular gas (not diesel) cars begin to experience problems) all while staying within your price range.


Finally, after you have found the one for you,  had it looked at by a mechanic, purchased insurance, and kicked the tires, bought it, and driven it home, the final step is to treat it nicely! It might be tempting to floor it whenever the opportunity strikes, but a bit of care and compassion towards the car that you looked so hard for will have your wallet and your car thanking you in the long run. Drive safe; don’t text and drive. Give it a wash once in a while, and show how much you truly love your car by caring for it the way it should be.