For many parents, buying a teen their first car is something done as a graduation gift or off-to-college going away present. But not all college students have this luxury, as many families as well are on a tight budget.
For a college student, owning a car isn’t just about identifying as an adult, a symbol you’ve “grown-up”. Plenty of idiots drive cars.
Using that car to move up in the world, and drive yourself to internships and being on-time for appointments, that’s how you show maturity.
As a financially strapped college student, it may seem impossible to get a good deal on a set of wheels.
But we’ve put together a helpful guide on how you can buy an affordable car, and some ways you can turn a junker into something moderately nice:
Your budget will be your first consideration, as well as method of payment.
You could buy a used car for $3,000 off CraigsList, but that would mean actually having $3,000 onhand wouldn’t it? And you might be able to get a small car loan but you’ll face numerous obstacles as a college student.
You don’t necessarily have to be stuck between a choice of starving now or starving later. While you may not qualify for a car loan, you can still strike a bargain and handshake deal with a used car salesman or a local seller.
So if you can’t buy a car outright with cash on hand, consider your available options for used car financing, provided you have a good down-payment.
It will also help knowing how to negotiate with a car salesman.
Different Ways to Personalize Your Car
Your priority should be finding an affordable car that runs well, even if it has some exterior dents and scratches.
You can save a bit of money by opting for an older, more used-looking model, rolling up your sleeves and doing a bit of DIY bodywork. Body dents for example can be hammered back into shape with a little know-how.
As for a bit of personalization, there’s a lot of cheap options. You can start with putting personalized cheap number plates on your car, and then add a few decorations such as:
There are many different designs, texts and fonts that you can use on your windshield header to give your car a personalized touch.
LED Headlights Conversions
This conversion will not only add a modern touch to your car but it is highly efficient and convenient as well.
LED headlights have a stronger light, are sharper, focus better and are quite brighter than the normal halogen or incandescent bulbs.
LED Interior Lighting
LED interior lights are available in different colors, some even change the colors according to your preference and input. You can highlight your center console, doors and footrest.
Some of the LED lights also come with a remote control, or a smartphone app to control your lighting through voice input. “Hey Google, make my interior dash lights blue”.
Shop for Imported Cars
A good option for finding cheap, affordable cars is look at imports. Brands like Kia, Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, and others have certain models and years that still hold up reliably well today, and can be found for less than $4,000.
For US citizens your options are limited because of a strict rule that only allows imports of cars more than 25 years old if the car was not made for the US market.
European college students will find a much wider variety of European and Asian imports than in the US.
Whatever ends up being available in your local market, make sure you know how to do some basic test-driving and feeling or listening for anything that feels “off”. It will help to bring an experienced driver along with you to examine used cars.
You also should be aware of useful features in a car for college students.