How do I find a good used vehicle?
I’ve recently done a couple of newspaper interviews about what a new driver should look for in purchasing a used vehicle. After all the thinking I did for these publications, I thought I would also share some of that information here.
The new driver needs to find value and safety in their first major purchase. They need to look at safety features first. Find a vehicle that offers frontal airbags, but also curtain airbags. This will help the driver and passengers if they are in a severe collision. They should also be looking for a vehicle which has ABS, side impact beams, crumple zones, etc. that can help protect them. One of the reasons road deaths and injuries have decreased over the last decade is because we’re driving safer vehicles. Never forget the other reason is proper, professional driver training.
Don’t assume the vehicle has a lot of these safety features. You’ll have to ensure they do by checking the dashboard warning lights and the owner’s manual. In some cases, a few safety features may have had to be ordered at the time of purchase as they were options the original purchaser and not standard features.
An item on their list when it comes to their first vehicle should also be economy. I know that SUV’s are so common, but the new driver should also look at fuel economy. Since fuel prices are getting higher and higher these days, why not drive a vehicle that allows you to drive for 1 to 2 weeks without having to fill it up with fuel. Besides, who wants to go from zero to 100 in two gas stations?
The new driver should also ensure there’s plenty of visibility for the driver. Larger windows and smaller window posts around the vehicle will help reduce the areas hidden around the vehicle that may make it difficult for that new driver to check their blind spots. As sexy as spoilers are on vehicles, they increase the blind area behind the vehicle, thus making it more difficult to reverse. My recommendation is to leave the spoilers for someone else.
Make sure you can also afford the insurance. Many new drivers get big eyes when it comes to their first vehicle. They spot something that’s flashy and immediately purchase it. Once that’s completed, they realize they can’t afford the insurance. That’s a big mistake. Once you’ve found a vehicle you really like, contact your insurance company to get a quote. If you can’t afford the insurance, it’s time to look for another vehicle.
If there’s still a manufactures warranty available with a slightly used vehicle, go for it. Quite often, a vehicle that’s roughly 3 to 4 years old can be purchased for almost half the cost of a new vehicle and it has some of the warranty still available. It may also have a lot of the updated major safety features built into the vehicle.
Despite all that’s been said at this point, the new driver will need to look for a vehicle that best suits their needs. If they’re going to be the person who always takes their family or friend to different locations, they’ll probably need a 4-door vehicle as opposed to a 2-door. A station wagon or an SUV may be better as it also has a lager cargo area and perhaps even a roof rack for carrying larger items.
I remember looking for a vehicle with my dad. I saw a Mustang and thought that would be the best vehicle for this young, single guy with a driver’s license. After some further thought, I realized I needed the 4-door since some of my friends didn’t have a vehicle and I would be the person picking them up and doing most of the driving. Logic took over from fantasy in that case.
Whichever vehicle they purchase as a new driver, or if you’re giving advice to that new driver, time needs to be taken to ensure it’s the perfect vehicle for them; not you.