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What do we look for when buying a car?

Kimberley Dodge profile

Kimberley Dodge

February 14, 2019

Owning a car Young driver stories 7 min read

Picture this – you’re in the market for a new car! Now what is the first thing you look at? Car prices, engine size, colour, performance, safety rating? We asked our two ambassador Kim and Joe and couple of questions about their car buying process. Kim has already got her hands on her first car, and Joe is yet to make the purchase. In the end, do we think they’ll be looking at different things or does it all boil down to the same, deciding factor?

Is the in-car technology a big selling point for you?

Kim: Not really. I’m not a massive technology geek so it never really bothered me. As long as the air conditioning and the heating works, I’m sold! I don’t need a fancy in car satnav or parking sensors, as cars with this much tech tended to be out of my budget. However, a basic CD player or radio was a big selling point for me, as some of the old bangers I looked at had nothing except a cassette player- not ideal for playing tunes on a road trip!

Joe: I would love to have all the radio stations possible, and a CD player would be very much appreciated. However, I am very technologically incompetent, so Bluetooth and hands-free stuff is beyond me. As long as the car can get from A-B, then the tech inside is not too big a concern.

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What about the colour of the car?

Kim: I’ve always wanted a vibrant coloured car, especially a yellow one. But I soon learnt that when purchasing a second-hand car, it’s not always possible to pick the colour that you want. I ended up with the most boring colour possible: plain black. Yet I’ve managed to jazz my dull coloured car with some funky accessories like yellow fluffy dice and bumper stickers. (Check out my vlog about personalising my car!)

Joe: This is something I always think about – I’ve have said since I was a kid that I want a green car, but I now realise how gross some green cars look, so maybe just dull grey or black like everyone else will do. But, saying that, an obscure colour like pink or orange would make finding where I parked a lot easier.

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What influences your car buying decisions?

Kim: As someone who doesn’t know an awful lot about cars, my first impression always comes from the way the car looks. But sometimes you have to be practical. My dad’s opinion influenced my car buying decisions a lot, as he knows a lot more than me about what kind of car is best. He knows what to look out for when car shopping and can tell if a deal looked too good to be true. Without my dad, I probably would have ended up with an unreliable, bone shaking clunk.

Joe: The obvious factor is, of course, the price. There is a tragic part of me that will want to choose the car with the funkiest licence plate, or that one that has plush seats or a decent CD storage space. However, when it comes down to it, if it isn’t cheap it isn’t for me.

Do you care about engine size/power?

Kim: I don’t really care about the engine power of the car- this isn’t Top Gear. I only need the car for short journeys and getting to and from school, so engine size isn’t really a big deal. I don’t exactly go speeding down the parkway like an F1 driver, personally I prefer to pootle. However, I did take engine size into consideration when purchasing my car, as different sizes can affect the price of your insurance.

Joe: Embarrassing as is it, I am the opposite of a petrol head. I know I am letting us boys down, but I do not have a clue about horsepower and all that 0-60 stuff. If you opened up that car, I wouldn’t even now where the engine was. If the wheels move, then I am happy.

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How important is price?

Kim: Personally, price played a massive role. As a first-time buyer and young student, I can’t exactly afford the next Lamborghini. Because I paid for most of my car myself (with a little help from the bank of mum and dad), I wanted to keep the price of my car as low whilst still investing in a motor in a reasonable condition. As long as the car runs smoothly and isn’t falling apart, I don’t think your first-time car doesn’t need to be expensive.

Joe: When I start searching for my first car, I am going to be looking for the cheapest car in the land, even if that means I get a tin with one seat and half a steering wheel. Beyond that, model, colour, size and shape don’t matter.

Does the safety of the car you’ll be driving have an impact?

Kim: Safety features aren’t something that I have considered too deeply- as long as the car locks safely and has working seatbelts I’m happy! Although, I must admit that having to unlock your car or boot manually is a bit of a hassle and I would much prefer to be able to secure my car at the push of a button. But, unfortunately comprises must be made.

Joe: Safety is never something I considered when buying a car! As long as it locks (even if it is manually) and it has seat belts, I will feel pretty safe. Maybe the car’s safety is something I will have to look into – it seems very important when buying your first car!

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What would you say is the main thing that draws you in to buying a car?

Kim: If a car looks like it’s in good condition and it’s within budget, I’m interested! The place that you purchase it from is also important to as a good car dealer will offer you warranty deals and often negotiate offers. When I initially started searching for my first car, I was being really picky: I was adamant that I didn’t want an ugly grandma car. But I soon found this to be impractical and ended up compromising to find a car that turned out to be the perfect fit!

Joe: I really want a battered, beaten, worn little second-hand car that I can work on fixing up. On the other hand, I want a Mini because they’re adorable, then another part of me wants the weirdest shape car I can find. I want a car that is unique and quirky, and hopefully one that will last me through university, which may mean I have to compromise on getting a banger.

Overall, it looks like we have different styles on what we want. Kim wants a car in good condition that she can make her own, and Joe wants something he can nurse back to health but also needs it to get him through Uni. The common factor between the two, however, is the price. If it’s too much money then it ain’t happening!

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Kimberley Dodge profile

By Kimberley Dodge

'For me, driving means freedom. I passed my test a year ago and so I’ve been enjoying getting where I want, when I want. I’m now 18, so having my own car has given me a lot more independence: I no longer have to rely on the taxi of mum and dad!'  See more posts by Kimberley

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