Getting a driver's licence is an important rite of passage for young adults. Getting their first car is an even more exciting milestone and represents freedom, independence and adult responsibilities. If you're planning to buy or help buy your child their first car, then you are most likely considering a used car over a brand new model.
There is an art to buying a quality second-hand car that will prove to be a safe, reliable and efficient vehicle for your child. Here are the three key things you should look at when you're considering the different options.
1. The number of kilometres
Used cars come with a wide variety of kilometres under their belts, depending on the age of the vehicle and what its previous owners used it for. Generally, cars that have travelled high numbers of kilometres won't prove to be reliable for as long as cars with low kilometre readings.
The more kilometres travelled, the more wear and tear the engine and parts will have endured. This often means that your bargain second-hand buy will cost you a fortune in major repairs after a short period of ownership.
2. The service history
A car with a high kilometre reading can still be a good purchase if it comes with a comprehensive history of regular services. Services keep the engine in good condition, prevent friction and wear on moving parts and identify and remedy small problems before they become big and expensive problems.
Likewise, a newer-model car with low kilometres can turn out to be a lemon if it hasn't received regular, or sometimes any, service throughout its history on the road. Often, the damage from lack of servicing isn't visible, so be very dubious about a vehicle with low kilometres and sound cosmetic appearance but no official service log available.
3. The safety features
Safety is an important consideration for any driver, but for young adults, it's a vital aspect that you'd be foolhardy to overlook. First-time car owners are inexperienced, and teens are disproportionately represented as traffic accident victims each year.
Safety features that you should consider mandatory are anti-lock brakes, airbags and electronic stability control. If the used car you're considering doesn't have these features, then look for a different option, even if it means you'll need to pay a little extra. You should also avoid high-speed or high-power cars for a young driver. They increase the likelihood of accidents and fatalities.