It is not the most exciting aspect of a car to take into consideration when you do go to buy your first car but the reason everyone highlights it is because it is true, and the statistics do not lie. People are far more likely to crash their car in their first year or two of driving than at any other time, so car safety features are incredibly important. You might consider yourself a safe driver, you may very well be a safe driver, but when you have your first bit of proper freedom with your own car then your driving ability may not be the biggest concern. For a lot of new drivers they simply haven’t built up the experience that puts them in a position to drive defensively. If you don’t know what driving defensively is you will need to learn: defensive driving is being able to handle a car that takes into consideration the other people on the road. These are the people who could very well be terrible drivers, who make mistakes, don’t indicate, change lanes suddenly, swerve, drive too slow, too fast, don’t know how to handle intersections, etc. When you start driving your own car you may very well be incredibly safe in your driving and adhere to all the rules and laws but you probably don’t have sufficient experience of dealing with things outside your control. So a safe car is incredibly important and luckily there are many online facilities to check car safety ratings going back a number of years.
There is a balance to be struck with safety. Generally bigger cars are safer than smaller cars, and newer cars are safer than older cars. For most new drivers the ideal balance between cost and safety is a relatively new small car. Small cars have a number of advantages: they’re cheaper to run as they use less fuel, they’re cheaper to maintain and repair, and they’re incredibly common. (Statistics have shown that Australia has switched from mostly buying big cars to mostly buying small cars in the recent years.) With more small cars on the road it’s easier to find replacement parts and more mechanics will have experience with them, never mind the inherent cost savings in the smallness of the car itself.
The final concern is the cost of the car. Used small cars, with low mileage can certainly be affordable. You might be able to stretch your budget and leverage car finance to a greater extent but you really need to take into account the running costs of the car. No matter how perfect the car is problems will pop up. Being able to immediately deal with them instead of having the car off the road for two weeks while you take the bus to save money is incredibly important. Having spare cash to deal with these scenarios is vital. When you’re assessing your available finance it’s important to take into consideration the other costs such as registration and insurance as well as any checks you need carried out on a car to ensure it’s not a dud.
Of course the most important part of ensuring you keep enough money back from buying the car is the amount of petrol you will use. You might think now that you’re only going to use the car driving to and from school every day and visiting friends on the weekend but that’s not realistic. You’ll have a car, something you’ve been looking forward to for years so you will be making excuses to go for a drive. Has your little sister exams coming up? You’ll drive twenty minutes to a shop to buy her some chocolate. Friends need a lift 200kms to concert? You’ll be happy to oblige. Driving your own car is incredibly freeing and you can be sure that you will need all the petrol money you can keep so working out a realistic cost-of-running the car is something you need to work hard on.