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Dos and Don’ts of Car Buying for Your College Student

It’s that time of year again. Dozens of teary eyed, yet internally relieved parents will drop their college-aged teenager off to campus for another school year. While many schools will not allow freshmen to have cars on campus, parents of older students may now be considering sending their child off with their own vehicle for more convenience and accommodation. Since college is a premium time for young adults to gain responsibility and learn to be self-reliant, it’s important to be sure your child is actually ready for his or her own vehicle. The main thing to consider whenever car buying is purpose, and you’re not going to shop for your student’s car the way you would for your own. To help parents navigate this process, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts for college student car shopping.

  • DO Consider Mileage: Your child will be driving to and from school and home during breaks and vacation, around campus during the semester, and possibly commuting to a job or internship. Ask your student what their schedule is like, and form a reasonable expectation of the amount of driving he/she will be doing.
  • DON’T Rule Out Manual Transmission: You may be able to get a better deal on a vehicle if it’s a stick shift versus an automatic. While it may seem daunting at first, consider the facts that they are usually cheaper to fix, saves a little more on gas, and forces the driver to keep his attention on the road. These are all gems for a young driver, and because they are still learning, teaching them to drive it can be hassle free.
  • DON’T Harp on Small Compact Cars: Yes these cars can be very gas efficient for a long daily, city commute, but for a busy first time driver they can be very hard on the pockets. One, your student will probably often need to move and carry different things throughout the years, and small cars do not provide the space for that. Also, for a constant driver, compact cars mean smaller gas tanks, and more trips to the gas station. Paying more per tank for slightly bigger vehicle means your child can enjoy convenience, space, and affordability.
  • DO Choose Low Maintenance Vehicles: If this is your child’s first car, it’s likely they will not be used to routine car maintenance. Picking a car that is easy and affordable to maintain will reduce the risk of major car trouble from occurring. Car companies like Honda, Nissan, and Toyota are known for their affordable quality vehicles, and economic service options.

This list isn’t necessarily an end all be all to car shopping, but hopefully it will serve as guide for your family as you consider what to buy. As a parent, you want your kid to be safe, and cared for, while still making them happy, and this doesn’t change when it comes to car buying. Talking to your child, and trusting your parental instinct will point you in the right direction every time!

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