Reasons to Buy a Car Before You Graduate

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shutterstock_113369086Bumming rides or taking the bus simply doesn’t cut it if you’re going to be graduating soon. Before you graduate, think about buying your first car and give yourself full independence.

You will undoubtedly have to deal with getting to classes, commuting to a job, or driving around to socialize. Chances are you might be living away from home in a community where you don’t have the same number of family or friends available to drive you around.

Buying a car doesn’t mean taking out a massive loan for a brand-new luxury machine. Rather, there are dependable used cars out there for a more reasonable figure that fits your budget.

Consider safety and gas mileage

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death of Americans from 3 to 33 years old. Young people are more prone to motor vehicle accidents than older folks, so you really should consider vehicles with extra safety features. Working air bags and brakes should be more of a concern than the color of the paint or quality of the stereo speakers.

Think about the conditions of the place you’ll primarily be using the car. Will you have to drive long-distance from your college? Will you have to drive in snow or other crummy weather? You want a vehicle that will hold up in any conditions. Look for a vehicle that has been well maintained and has a good set of tires. There is nothing worse than breaking down on the side of the road in a rain storm.

A car or truck with excellent gas mileage is a great place to start, too. If you’re a student or just starting out on your own, you probably don’t have much cash to burn at the pump. Gas prices are reaching astronomical highs. Consider making safety rankings and fuel-efficiency rankings your primary interests before you ever talk to a salesperson.

Save up, and do your research

In his 10 tips for buying a used car, Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor Philip Reed suggests you consider what you can afford, the down payment you’re willing to bring to the table, and the monthly payments will work. In his article, Reed urges car buyers to take caution and prepare a list of “target” vehicles that fit key criteria, such as safety features, average gas mileage, and sticker price.

Of course, a lot hinges on the strength of your credit, especially based on your age and the risk banks associate with loaning money to younger car owners. There are other options if you feel like you’re not able to purchase a vehicle outright.

Like Edmunds, the folks at Kelley Blue Book also suggest that understanding financing is the top concern for first-time car owners. But the website says that the No. 1 priority should be to enjoy the process. If you’re buying a car, you want to be comfortable and proud of your ride, especially if you rely on it on a daily basis.

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