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20 Oct 2014 | by Lisa Cockerill

Buying your first car

Your First Car


Ask any driver and they can tell you exactly the Year, Make, Model and Colour of their first car quite often with pride even if the vehicle was considered to be a bomb of a vehicle.


The feeling of that first drive solo in your own vehicle is something that every driver will always remember fondly.


Taking a few steps backwards before this moment there is the long process and sometimes-unfortunate experience in purchasing a first car.


Parents are often at odds with their teenaged driver who has their sights set on a vehicle that is out of their budget but also too powerful for their first vehicle.


Male drivers tend to look for Japanese imports that are very popular among young drivers. A car says a lot about a person and in the time of life where image is important young male drivers will push the limits as to the vehicle they are looking for.


One of the biggest pitfalls that first car buyers find is that the vehicle of their dreams is on the market, exactly the colour they are looking for and surprising in their price range even though all the others on the internet are out of reach.


Proceed with caution. If the price has been reduced there is a very good reason for it. The owner is not going to tell you about it, as it is likely a problem they have discovered is worth more than the vehicle to fix.


Always look for evidence of any aftermarket additions to the engine bay that have now been removed. When a performance car owner has pushed the limits of the vehicle they have usually had help by overloading the original motor. When adding these modifications to the engine the higher the likelihood that the car has mistreated and may have issues from this misuse in the future.


Stay away from any vehicles that have been highly modified for a first vehicle. These are not the type of vehicle that you want as a first car. The number one thing to focus on is to get the experience up on the road safely. If you have a highly modified car – even if it is legal – the vehicle has a higher risk of being off the road for repairs. Especially if those modifications have been done by the owner and not a qualified mechanic. Inexperience is a high factor in on road fatalities and accidents. More time on the road in a safe vehicle allows the driver to gain the experience needed to avoid and minimise accidents.


The vehicle may come with a valid Safety Certificate or Roadworthy Certificate but the reality is that there are unfortunately examiners who are willing to write Safety Certificates for vehicles that are not roadworthy.


Having an independent company do a Pre-Purchase Inspection on the vehicle will save you a lot of money in the long run.


Knowing what potential issues a vehicle has or already has, gives you all the information to walk away from a lemon that if you brought it, is not only going to sit in the driveway and won’t get you on the road getting the experience needed to become a great driver.


No one looks cool in a car that doesn’t go.


There is a wealth of knowledge that mechanics know about cars.


  •      What the common problems are with that particular make and model in that year.
  •      If the engine fails at a particular kilometre reading
  •      Have the common problems been repaired/replaced properly?
  •      Has the vehicle been in an extensive accident?


This information is vital to ensure not only the saving of money but the safety of the driver and their passengers.


Being on a budget is always going to be one of the challenges of buying a first car.

Don’t just go for the cheapest car and steer away from older European models.


It may be cool to say my first car was a BMW but the servicing and maintenance of an older European car is a lot more expensive than other makes and models on the market. The parts and labour intensive repairs are costly and when a vehicle reaches a certain age, once one engine gasket goes it isn’t long before the others leak.


The most important things to look for are the safety features of the vehicle.

P Plater drivers are the most vulnerable on the roads and have the highest statistics for fatalities on Australian roads.


To enable them to have the best chance of survival in the event of an accident best to check that the vehicle has the following Safety Features.


  •  Air bags – If an airbag light is on the vehicle’s airbags will NOT deploy in the event of an accident. This vehicle should not pass a Safety Certificate Inspection if this light is on. If the light comes on – do not ignore it. Take it to your local mechanic and have the problem fixed as soon as possible.
  •  ABS – Automatic Braking System
  • Good tyres, Check that there is sufficient amount of tread but the brand is a reliable brand.
  • Suspension that works. Poor suspension will make braking distances longer.
  • All seatbelts are functional and not frayed.
  • Oil leaks onto the road surface and onto the exhaust. Oil leaks on the exhaust system is a potential fire      hazard. Those burnt down vehicles at the side of the highway are from this issue.


Never buy an unregistered vehicle for a first car without a pre-purchase inspection.


In the state of Queensland the seller does not need to supply a Safety Certificate for the vehicle and there is quite often a very expensive reason why the vehicle is being sold unregistered.


Remember that the seller will use high-pressure sales tactics to have you buy the vehicle.


If the seller is telling you that there are other parties looking at the vehicle as well and you may lose the sale if you wait for a pre-purchase inspection, still insist on the vehicle being inspected.


Alarm bells should be ringing very loud if the seller tries to discourage you from having someone independently look over the vehicle.


Always keep in mind that each model was made in mass production and there will be another vehicle on the market in the future. You want to take your time to find a vehicle of your choice in the best possible condition.










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