Buying Your First Car

Austin Koning Gives Advice for Buying a Car

Tyler Corning

Austin Koning Gives Advice for Buying a Car

Just bought my fourth car.

For many high school students, buying your first car is an exciting event. Kids dream about hitting the road in their dream car, with the top down and blasting the radio with your friends, but when you actually start looking, reality hits you like a moose hits your low standard convertible. However,  you can not always afford the car you want. I bought my first truck July 31st, 2011 and have purchased three more trucks and a car since then. Buying a car with a level head isn’t easy, but hopefully I can help with your first time.

The first thing is the most important; what do you want? What style vehicle, car, truck, or SUV? Take a minute to think about it now. Okay good, you’ve got it! But here is the part that will disqualify many of your choices for a car: options. The options that a car are equipped with may severely change what the car can do and how much you like it, or even how reliable it is. Lee Rigol, a student in attendance at the Peabody Vocational School for automotive, has owned countless cars over the years, never holding onto one for more than six months, has a lot of buying experience. When asked what he looks for in a new car he looks for flash saying, “I like options that really add to the cool factor of a car, like superchargers, lift kits, loud exhaust.” I believe this to be all well and good, but only if you can afford a car with reliable fancy options, not cheap ones that will break. You have to think about things like engine size, type of transmission, how many doors you want to have, and what trim package you like. If you’re picky, like me, and if one of these things is not the way you like it, then the car is useless to you.

Once you have an idea for the options you want on the vehicle, you want to do a little research. Look for common problems the car may have, like fuel pump problems, common exhaust leaks, is the drive-train reliable, and where does the car rust? Figure out at about what mileage people experience these problems and what the warning signs are.

Fantastic! You found the exact car you want on craigslist at a reasonable price! When you go look at a potential purchase remember to ask questions. For example, “Why are you selling this car?” and “What’s it’s history?” Remember, people lie, especially with money on the line, so be judgmental about what the person tells you; some play dumb. Take a good walk around the car, look for damage, crawl under making sure everything looks in order. Ask about work that has been done to it and who did it; I wouldn’t trust a car owned by a little old lady who claims to have done the head gaskets herself.

Once you finagle the keys out of the owner’s hand, drive it like you stole it (when you are out of sight of course). Beat the coolant out of it. Turn off the radio and listen as you accelerate, then stomp the brakes ensuring they’re functionality. Shift through all the gears. Now pull over and get out where you aren’t being hounded by the bird dog and can pop the hood. Check all the fluids, make sure it all looks and sounds good. See if the battery looks clean without excessive corrosion. Make sure you don’t smell gas, coolant, or oil at idle. Make note of things that concern you and take pictures. when you are back with the owner bring up those concerns.

I know, I know, you love it, but now here comes the uncomfortable part. It’s that awkward time in everybody’s life that you must go through, a time where you are unsure of yourself. Your body does things you never have seen before. This is perfectly normal for all teenagers; it’s the change. You are growing up. You may not know what I am talking about but when you hear that awkward sentence “So, are you interested, make me an offer.” Man-up and make an offer that is fair. Once you make deal, she’s all yours. Congratulations on your first car.