(StatePoint) During back-to-school season, students are often on the hunt for what may be their first car. There are many factors to consider beyond budget, and experts say this can be a difficult process to navigate.
“With hundreds of makes and models to choose from, young car buyers can find it challenging to select the best match for their new lifestyles,” says Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader.
There may likely be conflicting priorities between the student who will be driving the car and the parents who may be funding the purchase.
To help families select cars for young drivers, as well as prepare them for safe travels, the experts at Autotrader are sharing tips and insights.
• Consider new vs. used vs. hand-me-down: New cars don’t typically require much maintenance, which can make them good choices for young people, who should be focused foremost on their driving. Plus, new cars have all the latest safety features. However, new cars can mean depreciation, as they lose value at a much faster rate than used cars. While a used car will likely be cheaper, it may come with more maintenance costs. Lastly, parents may consider simply giving their current vehicle to their child, assuming the car is in good driving condition.
• Prioritize Safety: The latest safety features are particularly important for those with less experience behind the wheel. Before selecting a vehicle, consider reviewing crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at safercar.gov.
• Rethink Value: Value doesn’t necessarily mean buying the least expensive car. Remember to take into consideration fuel economy, resale value and practicality. Is this a vehicle that will spend more time in the shop than on the road? Also consider which services will come with the purchase. Some new cars, for example, come with free scheduled maintenance for a specific number of miles. You can also narrow down your options based on which cars are most affordable to insure.
• Technology: Young drivers today are likely going to be keen on selections with in-car technology. Voice-activated Bluetooth, hands-free calling and music streaming are just a few features that may appeal to your young driver.
To help you further navigate the car-buying landscape, visit autotrader.com/collegecars.
Whatever way you acquire your vehicle, it’s important to remember that regular maintenance will extend the life of your car. Frequently wash your car to keep the paint and finish in good condition. Check tire pressure, inspect wiper blades, the engine, belts, hoses and coolant, and check alignment and suspension. While knowing how to perform these routine tasks is an invaluable skill, you may prefer taking your car to a professional. Find a trusted mechanic near your home or campus. That way, you’ll know who to call should you have an issue down the line.
Use this back-to-school season as an opportunity to become a savvier car shopper, a safer driver and a more responsible car owner.