Buying a first car for a newly-licensed driver can be a difficult process. There are several factors to consider when looking to make a purchase and parents, who are often the ones helping out, can be left scratching their heads.
We all know that young drivers are over-represented in road crash statistics and this simple fact demonstrates the importance of choosing the right vehicle.
Slater and Gordon asked 2,000 Australians what they thought were the most important factors when buying a car for a novice driver, and topping the list were safety, fuel efficiency and engine capacity restrictions. Also identified by respondents as key considerations, were budget restrictions and a need for the car to be pre-owned. Meanwhile, appearance and prestige were low on the list of purchasing priorities.
As a lawyer who represents road accident victims, it’s pleasing to see that safety topped the list of purchasing priorities and equally pleasing to find that appearance and prestige were low on the list.
But with this focus on safety, it’s important to note that generally speaking, younger members of our community are usually those who don’t have much cash to splash on the latest cars with all of the important safety features. So, while the research identifies the importance of safety, it is not always economically possible for younger drivers (and often their parents) to match that desire.
And it’s not just the initial cost to purchase the vehicle and pay the stamp duty, running a car isn’t cheap either. With ongoing registration fees and insurance costs, finding a car with fuel efficiency is often an important consideration to keep continuing costs down.
Despite knowing that appearance has little to no impact on the car’s safety or performance, we have to be realistic – many young people are concerned about the way their car looks. In fact, the young people we surveyed (aged 16 to 24) were more likely than older age groups to say that appearance is important when buying a car.
The bottom line for young car buyers is that purchasing priorities will be a mix of budget constraints, safety and aesthetics. It may not be about having all the latest bells and whistles, but it will be about getting the balance right.
So, what should you keep in mind when buying a low-cost, used car that is fuel-efficient, low-powered and above all things, safe? Here are a few simple things to keep in mind:
- When purchasing a car, whether new or used, check it against the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and aim for five stars when looking at the safety rating.
- If you purchase a pre-owned car, it’s also worth getting a mechanic to check over the basics. Also check the Used Car Safety Rating (UCSR).
- You can find out the car’s fuel efficiency by researching the litres per kilometre as well as investigating the car on the Green Vehicle Guide, an Australian Government initiative.
- In terms of engine capacity, each Australian state has a list of prohibited vehicles for probationary drivers, so check with your local authorities to ensure that your chosen car isn’t on that list.