How to Pick the Best Car for a Student

Andrew Kambel 

Having a car in college has many benefits. Most importantly, it gives you the freedom to travel anywhere without any limitations. But choosing the right vehicle can be tough, especially with a limited budget.

If you are considering buying a car in college, read our guide to learn how to choose the best option with ease!

Can You Afford It?

So, you’ve decided to get yourself a vehicle. Later in this article, we will tell you what exactly to look out for when shopping for a car as a student. But, first and foremost, let’s answer the main question – can you really afford it?

We all know that most students are almost broke. Having too many college tasks to deal with, they rarely can get jobs to make money for a living. Luckily, there are services like WritePaper that can help young people delegate boring and tedious papers and save more time for working and earning money. Still, there are many expenses a student has to cover. Apart from academic services, tutors, and books, students also have to cover large expenses like tuition, housing, and many others. So, buying a car doesn’t always fit into their budget.

Now, despite a common misconception, a personal vehicle isn’t a one-time expense. Apart from the actual cost of the vehicle, you will also have to cover such regular costs as:

  • Insurance
  • Registration
  • Fuel
  • Parking
  • General maintenance
  • Servicing
  • Repairs

All these things can be pretty expensive. Thus, even if you have a few thousand bucks to buy a car, be sure to consider other related costs before you make a purchase. If you think you can afford it, move on to the next section of our guide.

New vs. Used Cars

Probably the very first question that pops up in every student’s mind when looking for a car is, “Should I get a new or a used one?”So, let’s start our guide from here.

Obviously, new cars attract with their reliability, whereas used ones look attractive to young people thanks to the money economy. But which option is the best? Let’s quickly look at the pros and cons of every option to see the real difference.

New Vehicle


  • Higher reliability
  • Better safety features
  • Warranty protection
  • The latest features
  • Free roadside assistance
  • The feel of a new car


  • Significantly higher price
  • Faster depreciation
  • More expensive insurance
  • It won’t be new forever

Used Vehicle


  • Significantly lower cost
  • Warranty is still available sometimes
  • Cheap insurance


  • Limited choice
  • Higher mileage
  • Fewer protections for consumers
  • More breakage risks

As you can see, there are plenty of pros and cons for every option. Generally, most students would still go with a pre-owned vehicle. This makes sense due to the low cost. Besides, if you review every option carefully, it is possible to find an old car that would still run well and serve you for many years.

Anyway, before deciding what works best for you, be sure to consider all these points carefully and weigh out all the risks.

What Makes a Student-Friendly Automobile?

When you make up your mind on whether to shop for a new or old vehicle, you must also think about the student-friendliness of the available options.

What does this mean? Many believe that a student-friendly automobile is one that doesn’t pull too many finances out of your pocket. Yet, the sticker price is only one of the many factors that make a student-friendly vehicle.

Still, you should also consider:

  • Safety rating. Anything can happen when you hit the road. Therefore, the first important thing to look for in a student-friendly car is its safety rating. In a nutshell, this rating indicates how secure a particular automobile is in dangerous situations. This rating is identified through a series of crash tests. The higher it is, the better.
  • Efficiency rating. This rating is used to identify the fuel efficiency of every model. In a nutshell, it explains how much fuel a car will consume per a certain mileage and how well it will perform. Since we are talking about vehicles friendly to young people, higher efficiency ratings are better. The cost of fuel can be pretty high. Besides, don’t forget that lower efficiency also means more harm to the environment.
  • Insurance cost. As was already mentioned, anything can happen to your automobile. Therefore, if you don’t want to bear additional costs of repair in the case of any accidents, theft, and other issues, you need to get insurance. So, the next factor indicating student-friendliness is the adequate cost of insurance.
  • Financing opportunities. Finally, one more thing young people want to consider is the availability of alternative financing opportunities. It’s not a secret that a vehicle is a large purchase that takes lots of money, even if it’s a used one. The good news is that there is often an opportunity to lease both a new and an old automobile to break down the cost and make this purchase less stressful.

What Are the Other Important Things to Consider?

When you buy a car while studying, there are many things you should consider. Of course, everyone will have their own preferences and needs. Also, there are general recommendations that we shared with you earlier.

Now, here are a few extras that you want to keep in mind in order to make the right choice:

Gas vs. Electric

You probably know that there has been a lot of buzz around electric vehicles in recent years. They are more ecological and cost-efficient, which could make them great for students. However, there are a few issues. Namely, electric autos always have limitations on the mileage that you can drive on a single charge, which can be rather inconvenient if you are driving a lot regularly. Also, the cost of an electric vehicle is often higher.

All in all, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should get a gas or electric automobile. Thus, be sure to consider both options to choose what suits you best.

Accident History

If you decide to get pre-used wheels, the accident history is one of the first things you should check. Basically, this history tells you about all the accidents that a particular vehicle participated in. It can give you a better idea of its condition, reliability, and possible issues too.

PRO TIP: Be ready that previous owners might be unwilling to tell you everything. So, unless you are a real pro in automobiles, it is a good idea to hire a professional who will help you assess the condition of every option you consider.

The Bottom Line

As was said earlier, owning an automobile in college will give you more freedom. With its help, you will be able to avoid public transport, travel, visit your family, live outside the campus, and do many other things with ease. And the only question is – how do you pick a car that suits your needs?

Shopping for something so grand is never easy. But luckily, after reading this guide, it shouldn’t be such a tough choice. Now you know everything about different car types, as well as what to look out for in a student car. Use these tips to make the best decision!

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