Ideal First Car – 5 Easy Steps To Some Top Wheels
First of all, if you’ve just passed your test and you’re on the lookout for a new car, then congratulations! No doubt a huge load lifted off your shoulders. Now the fun bit begins and you can start looking for a great new set of wheels. Which leads us onto the obvious question; What is an ideal first car? Which variables should you take into account? What traps do you need to avoid falling into? There are a few factors to think about, but don’t worry, the answers are on their way!
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The first factor to consider is the engine size. Now, from an insurance viewpoint, smaller engines are better. They are generally slower and therefore less likely to land you in high speed trouble. This is clearly excellent for your safety, and the lives of those around you. All very politically correct, and highway code friendly. There are a few things to be aware of though.
If the engine is too small, you need to thrash the car just to keep up with traffic, this will not only increase fuel economy, but could also fatigue and component wear. There could be a cost implication for all of those factors, so simply going for the smallest possible engine may not necessarily be the best idea. My first car was a 2.0 Focus MK1, albeit a red one. The engine sounds large, but the car is not that fast, and I didn’t have to thrash it everywhere just to make progress. The more powerful engine also made it more difficult to stall, which is an important issue.
This is not going to be just another article about how supposedly great the Focus is, but another factor that led me to this decision is that of safety. We already know that there are two types of safety: Active (which stops you hitting the tree initially) and Passive (which protects you when you still manage to hit it). One of the reasons I went for the 2.0 Focus, rather than a 1.6 or 1.8, was that it was guaranteed to come with anti-lock brakes, regardless of the year.
Today, this isn’t really a problem as ABS became a legal requirement back in 2004. However, if you still somehow manage to hit the tree, you’d better hope you didn’t compromise on passive safety too much in order to get yourself a cheap deal. Take time to consider the safety ratings of all the cars you’re considering buying. Make sure you’re getting the full suite of airbags and necessary protection. Cars are obviously cheaper without these, for a reason.
How Repairable Is The Car?
Your first car, for most of us, may not be the last word in reliability. So it really pays to choose a model that one can repair easily and cheaply, because a lot of the statistics suggest that at some point there may be an accident. It will likely be a slow speed one, where parking is misjudged, or a kerb is hit too hard and the alignment is knocked out of sync. So getting a car that can be mended quickly and cheaply, possibly by you, will pay dividends.
There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t go for an all singing and dancing model. Firstly, all the features may distract you when the concentration really should be on the driving. Secondly, there are more features to go wrong, which could be a factor in the above point. But the main reason here is that it could increase the risk of theft. This is a big factor in calculating insurance rates, so it could be that high cost of cover could prevent this being an issue anyway. But just in case it doesn’t, think about the inconvenience of having a car stolen, all the frustration and paperwork that comes with it, before you order that Porsche just because you can.
A factor that is’t often talked about is how you feel driving the car. You’ve just passed you test, but here comes what may be some uncomfortable reading. Merely passing the test does not mean you’re an excellent driver. You might be great behind the wheel, but the test only ensures that you meet a minimum standard to be safe on the road. Your standard of driving can change frequently, and one of the big ‘drivers’ behind this change is mentality.
Do you feel like other drivers may bully you in the car? Might you feel exposed or vulnerable? Do the controls fall easily to hand, or are they confusing? These are all questions that affect how relaxed and calm you are behind the wheel, and ultimately how comfortable you are driving the car. The answers to the above questions may change over time, as you get more used to driving. But in the first few ventures out onto the road, it pays to get into a car you feel as comfortable in as possible. There are enough other things to worry about!
Hopefully this provides a slightly different insight into the world of first car selection. But what are your views on this? Should we just ditch everything and focus solely on safety? Should we get the newest cars with tech that can help new drivers avoid any crashes? This debate will run on for a while I suspect, so join the family, and let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks for reading!