Your first wheels
Buying your first car can be a minefield. Melinda Ferguson gives some hard-learnt advice and highlights five of the best buys on the block
Iwas a late starter when it came to driving and owning a car. In fact, at 18, while most of my school-leaving friends were heading off to get their driver’s, I decided partying was a priority, so I chose to be the inebriated passenger. When I finally woke up out of my Black Label stupor, a whole decade had passed.
Eventually, I sobered up and bought my first car – a little green Honda Ballade with those cute flappy lights. I did everything you’re not supposed to. In my excitement about the colour, I forgot to ask for a service history, blindly trusting the good friend who I’d purchased my Ballade from. Big mistake.
For the next year, I spent double the money I’d paid on the car, at the mechanic, because it constantly showed the red oil light and broke down weekly. I learnt the hard way.
Whether you’re a late starter like me, a school-leaver or a postgrad starting a new job, here are some basic tips for buying your first vehicle, to help you from making the same mistakes as I did:
Establish a realistic budget if you are opting for finance. Consider all your costs, such as rent, food, petrol and insurance (and Happy Hour!), before coming up with a number you can afford. Visit a financing institution to get advice on the finance you qualify for.
Be patient. Save up for as big a deposit as possible to make your instalments as low as possible and choose the shortest term for the loan.
Beware of balloon payments, which will force you to pay a lump sum at the end of the contract period. This might require a new loan, starting the debt cycle all over again.
Research; the internet’s an amazing tool. Visit car websites, and compare specs and pricing. There’s a wealth of info out there. Visit various dealerships and quiz the salespeople before you make your allimportant decision. Avoid those where three-quarters of the staff are sitting down or standing at the entrance.
Then ... get your groove on and take a test-drive. In fact, take a lot of test-drives to make absolutely sure you are happy with your purchase. Feel the seat height, steering wheel, outward visibility, instrument layout. Don’t be rushed into a five-minute spin around the block. If you’re buying second-hand, remember:
Always ask for the service history of the car.
Spend a bit of cash and take it to an AA testing centre for a roadworthy assessment.
Most important, enjoy the journey and the ride.
SUZUKI SWIFT 1.2 GL
FORD FIGO 1.4 TREND
TOYOTA YARIS 1.0
VW POLO VIVO CONCEPTLINE
KIA PICANTO 1.0 LX