Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 02:10 pm

Your student might have their heart set on a little red sports car, but your wallet is probably leaning towards an older hatchback that is safer and more affordable…

Your child has finally reached university age. They are going to be experiencing some exciting new adventures, meeting new people and improving their education all at the same time. One aspect of going to university is that your child will likely need (and want) their own transport. And this means that you will have to choose a car for them.

There are many trusted second-hand car dealers you can go to to look for the perfect car for your university student. Be sure to work out a budget first and then move on to looking for the features that you and your child find most important. Not sure where to start? Below are some top tips on how to choose a car for your university student…

Start with a realistic budget

Now, your child might want to start off with looking at the latest models, but you should rather start your car search by building a realistic budget. Your student might have their heart set on a little red sports car, but your wallet is probably leaning towards an older hatchback that is safer and more affordable.

The budget for your child’s car should not leave you scrimping and saving each month. Rather it should be the same or under the amount that you are paying for your own car. You will find that many second-hand car dealers can offer you affordable finance options on their cars. Speak to your child about being realistic and looking for a sturdy starter car rather than a flashy model that will cost more in the long run.

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How far is their commute?

This is an important question to ask, as it will help you to narrow down what type of car to choose. If they will be living within a 10 to 15 minute drive to the campus, you could look at a car that is easy to drive around the city, such as a hatchback or smaller car.

However, if they are living 20 to 30 minutes away, a bigger car might be ideal. They might also choose to live on campus and travel home over the weekend with laundry, so their car will need a decent sized boot to accommodate their luggage. It is a given that they will want to drive their friends to and from events, so a four-door car is the best choice. Be sure to look for a fuel-efficient model regardless of the distance of their commute so that they can save on petrol costs.

The budget for your child’s car should not leave you scrimping and saving each month

Find out what features they value

Before you go to the sales lot of any car dealer, you will need to discuss with your child what features are important to them. For example, they might think that a good sound system is a major selling point, as well as the interior finish of the car.

Because they will be the one driving the car, it is important to take these features into consideration. You will need to think about the safety features as well, such as the number of airbags in the car, whether or not there is ABS (antilock braking system) in place and any technological options to help make their ride safer. Both you and your child will need to inspect the car’s exterior and interior for any possible damage, paying attention to the windscreen and the engine.

Who will maintain the car?

Once you have looked at the models and chosen one that is to both of your likings, you will need to discuss who will pay for the maintenance of the car and who will perform said maintenance.

Many university students are not earning a salary and will not be able to afford regular maintenance of a car, but if your child has a part-time job, they will be able to pay towards maintaining their new vehicle. Maintenance can become expensive, so ensure that you have money set aside for this, or if your child is working, help them to create a budget that allows them to save money each month towards car maintenance.

New or used?

This is an important consideration. Buying new or used will significantly impact the budget that you have set out for your child’s car. A used car is likely the best option for a student’s first car, as it is affordable and it will teach them responsibility.

Used cars have already experienced depreciation, which means that their value will not change as much as that of a new car. New cars do offer exciting technological options which appeal to students but they will have to take into account that these tend to cost more. There are many trusted second-hand car dealers and pre-owned dealer lots you can go to in order to find the perfect car for your student.