Congratulations, you have obtained your driver’s license and you are about to be the owner of your first car. Or maybe you got your permission a few years ago and have been saving to buy a car. Be that as it may, you are about to take an important step. Think that your first car is a kind of rolling school: it is with which you will learn to drive – not to drive – and it is the one that will teach you the benefits and vicissitudes of being the owner of a car. In Diariomotor we want to help you make the experience with your first car a success.
And for that, you need the right car. When asked “what car do I buy?” We would usually go to our homonymous website, but not this time. Do not buy a new car, buy a cheap second-hand car. A simple and hard car, affordable maintenance. Every first car suffers the recklessness, driving errors and carelessness of a new driver. You do not want that car to be a brand new BMW 1 Series, or a high-performance sports car, like the Nissan 370Z.
With these tips, you will achieve that the experience with your first car is satisfactory, safe and not harmful to your current account. Although this article is more focused on the purchase of a first car, you may have “inherited” the family car from a few years ago, or the “grandfather” car. Be that as it may, some of these tips are also applicable to that car. Even many of the tips we have given to caring for an aging car are applicable for your first car.
1) Go to the cheap: limit your budget
Do not spend all your savings on your first car. Limit your budget to a top with which you feel comfortable, and keep in mind that a car generates many expenses, more than what a priori is thought. Your first insurance will have a high price, and it may be that you have to fine-tune the car as soon as you buy it. Not to mention the obvious expense in fuel, its maintenance, the ITV, the municipal “vignette” or the rent of a parking space, essential in some cities. A good advice is to not spend more than half of your savings on the purchase of the car.
2) Choose a simple, hard and reliable car
As a car can be a money pit, it needs to be robust, simple and reliable. I know that it is a purchasing decision in which many factors play, and in which emotions play a fundamental role. But you have to be sensible: your first car will be a learning car, a car to “get out of the way”. Choose cars with simple mechanics: think of atmospheric diesel engines or low-displacement atmospheric gasoline. If possible, with a distribution by a chain, or with enough margin until the next belt change.
Do not choose complex cars or cars with a very abundant equipment. That retractable hardtop of that Mercedes SLK so cheap and so bright is going to give you problems, and they will be expensive. Personally, I would opt for cars manufactured in the 90s or the first part of the last decade. Cars whose price will be affordable, with lots of low-priced parts and many units in the scrapyards. Cars whose routine maintenance is limited to little more than changing the engine oil and the corresponding filters.
3) Make sure your tires and brakes are in good condition
When you go to see the car in which you are interested, you should make sure that your brakes and tires are in good condition. They are the basic security elements of your car, and if they are not in good condition, both ABS and ESP cannot function effectively. Check that the tires are not badly worn – or poorly worn – and make sure they have been manufactured within the last two or three years. Check that the brake discs do not have grooves on their surface and that the brake pads still have a life ahead. Mental peace, and less future expenses.
4) Check that you are in good mechanical shape
This pre-purchase review does not only affect tires or brakes. We recommend that if possible, take the car to a workshop for a pre-purchase inspection. In it they will make sure that their undercarriage has no gaps, and that the car has no hidden defects – known or unknown to the seller. Also, they can check that there are no components about to break down and if their maintenance is as up-to-date as their vendor claims. This is especially important in cars with a more complex timing belt or mechanical, such as a turbocharged diesel.
5) Test the car
Never, ever, buy a car without trying it before. We understand that you will not have a great experience at the wheel, but you can notice that the car turns properly, brakes well, does not make strange noises when going through potholes and its engine does not jerk when accelerating. Do not forget to check the proper functioning of the air conditioning, its lights or sound equipment. Better to know in advance what works and what does not – you can negotiate the price based on it – than to take an unpleasant surprise within two days of taking it home.
6) Do not buy an automatic car
The purpose of this first car is to learn. Do not buy an automatic car, because you will not learn to master the operation of manual changes. I already know that the future of manual changes is not flattering, but it is one of those skills that every driver must master. It’s like riding a bicycle. Do not forget and you will never know when you may need it. In addition, the automatic changes are mechanically complex, require periodic maintenance, and a fault is a four-digit invoice in complete safety.
7) The less powerful and more “sensible” your car is, the better
“I just saw a BMW 523i of the year 99 for 1,600 euros, and it has 170 hp. ” Yes, but I do not recommend that you buy it, or at least not for the moment. A high level of power is not recommended in the hands of a novel. If your new car is an atmospheric diesel of 70 hp, you can not pass 160 km / h if you want, you can not overtake foolhardily and you can not drive like Dominic Toretto in “A Todo Gas”. And believe me, even if it sounds like grandfather’s advice, it’s for your own good. We’ve all done nonsense at the wheel as soon as we get our license.
If we add a high level of power and benefits to this nonsense, disaster can materialize very quickly. Also, being a novelty, you may even be assured of a powerful car – or they may ask you for a fortune to do so. A Ford Mondeo 90 hp diesel does not sound too exciting, but it is a better car for a novel than a BMW with almost 200 hp. The more sensible and restrained this first car is, the better. Do not worry, you’ll have time for GTIs and sports. Everything in its time.
8) Do not invest more than necessary for improvements and repairs
It’s your first car. It will not accompany you all your life, and soon you will replace it with a car with better technical characteristics and equipment. It’s a car with which to learn, a car that should not empty your wallet. Do not spend 1,000 euros to install a sound system with 6 speakers and 500 watts, because you have “thrown” the money in the trash: it will not increase the value of the car when you go to sell, and hopefully, you can sell it in Wallapop. Also, do not lose money on sports tires or tinting your windows.
As for repairs, something similar happens. Invests money in security elements or in problems that affect the correct functioning of the mechanics or the running gear. Replace a shock absorber in poor condition, but do not leave a fortune in fixing a centralized lock that works incorrectly, or painting a fin with a scratch. Dedicate your economic effort to what really matters.
9) Follow our tips to take care of your mechanics
In Diariomotor we have published dozens of articles to take care of your car. We have taught you the dangers of passing over the speed bumps at full speed, as well as bad habits that reduce the life of your tires. We have also published an article with tips to take care of the clutch of your car, detect dampers in poor condition or take care of a turbocharged mechanics. Everything you need to take care of your car correctly is available in Diariomotor. Listen to us, and your car will appreciate it. Almost all cars currently on sale equipped turbo engines. All the …
10) Enjoy it
It is the most important thing. Your car is your key to an individual freedom that until now you lacked. You can travel where your time and your money can take you, live incredible experiences with your group of friends, with your family, with your partner. It is the materialization of the moment that you have been waiting for so long. It is the tutorial for an exciting video game that you will play for decades. A car is much more than a transportation tool: it is passion, freedom, responsibility, maturity, effort, fun, joy, sadness, uneasiness and euphoria.