Car Buying Tips For College Students

April 4th, 2022 by

If you’re a college student, you might have a lot on your plate. Tests and quizzes, various assignments, extracurriculars. You may be juggling a work schedule along with your class schedule, and paying utility bills for the first time. This can be especially overwhelming if you also have to find a car to buy. Here are some helpful car buying tips for college students.

Determine Your Budget

A rite of passage for college age people is keeping a budget. Tally up all your expenses — food, lodging, utilities, entertainment, tuition, medications, campus fees, everything you need to live. And subtract that from your expected income and/or allowance. This will determine what kind of payments you can make on a car. Keep in mind that unexpected expenses are a part of adult life. Leave a “cushion.” It’s much better to have some extra spending money every month than be stressing over every penny or going without food. Also remember that cars use fuel and involve other expenses such as oil changes every 8,000 miles or so.

Most buyers don’t pay cash for a car. They get dealer financing, which means the dealer will ask you for a down payment and tell you what you’ll pay per month, and for how many months. The interest rate you’ll pay every month largely depends on your credit rating. Since most college students haven’t had a chance to build a good credit history, they often get a parent to co-sign for the loan, meaning they share responsibility if you fall behind on payments. Determine your credit scores before you go to the dealer. Having a parent with you can be helpful for advice and support as well.

college student car buyingNarrow Your Search

What kind of vehicle do you want? Pay attention to the cars and trucks around you to see what appeals to you. If a friend or family member has a vehicle that might appeal to you, ask if you can drive it around a little bit. Ask them the pros and cons of the vehicle.

Consider all your needs. Will you need a truck or a large car for any reason? Will you be driving friends around or hauling a drum kit or a large musical instrument to and from band practice? If parking is tight on campus, you may want to get a small car that’s easy to park. This can save you time looking for a suitable parking space.

Compare Costs to Operate

These days, the specifications for every model of car can be easily retrieved online. An important factor is MPG (miles per gallon.) Due to technical improvements as well as government pollution standards, fuel efficiency has improved greatly in recent decades. In 2005, the average new light-duty vehicle got around 19 miles per gallon. Now the average is closer to 26 miles per gallon. If you buy a smaller, lighter vehicle or a hybrid, you can expect to get 35 to 45 miles per gallon. Of course, there are compromises to make. Older cars are cheaper to buy but are less fuel efficient. Sports cars, trucks and SUVs tend to have relatively low fuel efficiency. That Mustang may be pretty, but it sure burns a lot of fuel. Keep that in mind, especially if you have a lot of driving to do. Sports cars are also more expensive to insure, so keep that in mind as well.

Safety Features and Ratings

While you may be an excellent driver, remember that driving safely takes years to master. You learn as you go. Young people are more likely to get into an accident than more experienced drivers. Every car you consider buying has been put through a series of safety evaluations so it can be given a safety rating. Take a careful note of these, as some very similar looking models and trim levels can have very different safety ratings and features. If you get a car over twenty years old, make sure it has fully operational ABS (anti-lock brakes) and airbags. Newer cars have important safety features such as traction control, rear-view cameras, parking assist systems, lane departure warnings, pedestrian detection, forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control (which maintains a steady distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.)

Have A Mechanic Inspect the Vehicle

Since a vehicle is such a big investment (especially with today’s prices) you want to make sure it doesn’t have any mechanical problems. It’s hard to find a lot of these issues without expertise, so dealers and private buyers should let you take the vehicle to get checked out by a local mechanic. If you don’t know a mechanic, ask friends and family members who they trust and take it there. This usually costs you something but it’s worth it to have the peace of mind that you’re buying a solid vehicle, or if the mechanic helps you avoid making a serious mistake. Don’t be afraid to ask the mechanic questions about the vehicle. They may have advice or be able to fix what’s wrong with it.

If you need a car, stop by the new and used car dealership Floridians have trusted for more than 85 years. At Dixie Buick GMC, we’ve been serving the community of Fort Myers, Florida since 1934. With an extensive online inventory and welcoming showroom, we work with customers to help them find the right new or used vehicle to meet their needs and fit their budgets. Buying a car can be an overwhelming process because there are so many options out there, but we’re here for you, from the trade in process, through working with your credit, to providing excellent service, performed by certified factory-trained technicians, after you’ve purchased your vehicle. Whether you’re looking for a new or used car, we’ve got you covered. To learn more about what our award-winning sales and service team can do for you, visit our showroom, browse vehicles on our website, give us a call at 239-330-9918, or contact us online.

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