First Key to Freedom: How to Choose Your First Car

woman driving a pick up truck

Congratulations on getting your driver's license, the process of learning really can be a long old slog. It takes the average person almost a year of weekly lessons, you have your theory to revise for and not to mention the prep for the 'show me, tell me' questions. By the time the examiner tells you you've passed, it's such a relief and chances are you'll be keen to get out there and start enjoying the freedom of driving by yourself. But before you can do that, you'll of course need to buy a car. But before you decide if you're going to go with a hatchback, a saloon or even check out your local  pickup truck dealers, it's worth thinking about the following things first. 

What You Need It For 
Before you buy your first car, think about your lifestyle and what you'll use the  vehicle for. Do you do a lot of shorter trips or will you mainly be driving longer journeys? Will you be doing much city and down driving, or will it be predominantly motorways? How much space will you need, is the car just for you or do you need room for children's car seats, prams, bikes or lots of groceries? It's tempting to go with something just because you like the look of it, but think about how well it will work for your lifestyle. 

Learn About What You're Buying 
Research your dream car thoroughly. Look for independent car review sites and see which cars fit the specifications you need. Check if the models you have shortlisted are fuel efficient, reliable, and safe. Checking out message boards and social media groups may not be a bad idea either. They might have amateur reviews up, but they also have honest experiences about using the model you're looking to buy. Don't be afraid to ask your friends and relatives for advice, they may have valuable experiences when it comes to cars or they might know the best dealers with which you can get better deals. 

Costs Go Beyond the Price Tag 
The selling price of a car isn't the only thing you'll need to pay for when you buy your first car. Auto insurance, monthly car payments, and maintenance are your first immediate add-ons to the costs. Add to that your car's yearly motor vehicle registration, parking costs, taxes, and other expenses involved in owning a car. Depending on how much you drive, gas becomes a recurring expense. Even when your car is under warranty, you should still set aside money for the regular maintenance and repairs. 

Here are your options when it comes to the types of vehicles you can buy: 

Saloon Cars and Station Wagons 
Saloon cars (called sedans in the states) and station wagons are both four-door cars, medium-sized, and used by various demographics. They're the top choice when it comes to average cars, and are great for a family or as a smart work car. Station wagons also share the rear door functionality of hatchbacks. 

Hatchbacks and Minicars 
Hatchbacks and minicars are compact and come with different engine types. The environmentally minded may prefer these types for their space-for-value design, ability to fit in smaller spaces, and smaller carbon footprint than other vehicles. Hatchbacks like the Beetle, Mini and Fiat 500 have a strong female fan base because they're cars that have a cute look to them. 

SUVs, Trucks, and Vans 
Great for families, these multi-door marvels are often used for high-volume travel. Big families and groups of friends opt for the space these vehicles bring. They're also ideal for road trips, as they can fit a number of people and their cargo. 

Sports Cars and Convertibles 
Sports cars and convertibles are typically seen zooming in highways and posh cities. Convertibles or roadsters are popular in areas where there's the sun, wind, and little adverse weather. Sports cars are built for style, speed, and size. Not the most practical for a family, but nippy to drive and look the part. 

What was your first car?

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