Characteristics of a Good First Car
March 26, 2019

Whether you’re a parent or a newly licensed member of the community, purchasing a first car is an exciting milestone for all involved. Safety, cost, and style are all factors that come into the decision-making process. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely heard horror stories. Avoid being the main character of one by remaining informed with our tips on purchasing a good first car.

First, What Should You Avoid?

Sports Cars and High-Performance Vehicles. Sports cars seem glamourous but are unnecessary for a first car. Powerful cars should be reserved for confident, mature and experienced drivers that can appreciate and respect the responsibility of owning and operating a car of this nature. Insurance premiums also tend to be higher for sports cars due to the increased risk of road accidents, and soar for owners under the age of 25.

SUV’s and Utes. SUV’s and utes are also cars that should be left to more experienced drivers. Tall vehicles are easier to roll around tight corners due to a high centre of gravity. They’re also difficult to park if you’re not entirely sure of your cars special dimensions and turning circle. Avoid the embarrassment of the tenth failed attempt at a parallel park. Save the giants of the highway for those who need the extra space.

Size Matters

Each vehicle size has its benefits and drawbacks. Of all sizes, small cars and sedans tend to be first car favourites among first time drivers and parents alike.

Small Cars. A small car can be easier to drive and carries fewer passengers – which is often a consideration for parents of new drivers.  Better fuel economy and cheaper maintenance costs are usually additional bonuses.

On the flip side of this, small two door vehicles and smart cars are light weight and offer a lower level of crash protection. Make sure that a small car has a high ANCAP safety rating and that it has been well maintained (if purchasing secondhand) if you plan to go down this route.

Sedans. A mid or full-sized family car is also a good choice. Newer mid-sized vehicles are generally optimised for fuel economy and can incur similar maintenance costs to small cars if you purchase a common enough model.

“Small cars and sedans tend to be first car favourites among first time drivers and parents alike.”

Safety and Comfort Features to Look For

You probably already know that all cars aren’t created equal when it comes to safety and comfort features. What should you be looking for in your first car?

Accident Avoidance Aids. Features such as electronic stability control, already mentioned above, anti-lock braking, and traction control are all things to prioritise in your vehicle search.

Crash Protection Features. Many crash protection features will be standard on most cars, especially if you’re buying a newer model. Look out for the quality of seat belts, the presence of airbags around the car (in addition to the standard driver and passenger airbags), and crumple zones that will absorb any impact. If buying a first car for a teenager, you can also look for seatbelt reminders and alarms that sound if the car is driven and the driver or a passenger isn’t wearing their seatbelt. Another useful option might be a car with an in-built sat nav system that recognises what the speed limit is based on location and sounds a warning when this is exceeded.

Comfort Features. A comfortable car can take driving from a daily task to an anticipated event. Climate control, heated seats, auto-adjusting seatbelts and adjustment settings can all take a car from average to extraordinary.

Accident Avoidance Aids

Crash Protection Features

Comfort Features

Learn in a Similar Make & Model

Inexperienced drivers can find changing models a particularly difficult adjustment. European car manufacturers have controls in different positions to Asian manufacturers, which can lead to some comical errors when indicating or trying to turn on the windscreen wipers. Purchasing a similar car to the model originally learned in can boost confidence and make the driving experience far more enjoyable.

If You’re A Parent, What Do You Drive?

Although your child may not have learned to drive in the family car, it’s a good idea to give them some experience of driving with you in the car before they head out on their own.

If they’re comfortable driving the family car, then it might be an idea to buy them the same car, or at least one from the same manufacturer. You could even gift them the car if it’s time to treat yourself to a new one!

If You Need Funds to Buy A First Car …

MacCredit Can Help You.

We have access to a panel of lenders who might be able to provide a personal loan, to cover some or all of the costs of your first car. As well as covering the cost of the car itself, you may also be able to use your loan to cover your first year’s insurance costs.

Find out if you qualify today.

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