The folks over at Auto Mart have provided 10 practical tips to consider when buying a student car.
Yes, many parents of matriculants and gap-year returnees are now faced with the daunting task of finding a student car.
For those looking at second-hand cars, the tussle may be between dad and mom considering practical options while would-be students are after flashy, sporty, or even vintage models.
"As a parent, you don't want your child's class schedule, campus life and safety to be compromised by an unreliable car, so we recommend that you opt for a practical, low-maintenance model and follow our advice to make an informed decision," said Francois Labuschagne, Product and Marketing Manager for Auto Mart.
Here are Auto Mart's ten tips:
1. Be aware that the car will be parked outside in the sun for extended periods of time, so its exterior is likely to sustain damage (as well as scratches through wear and tear). A second-hand car's bodywork therefore doesn't necessarily have to be in perfect condition to begin with.
2. Choose a car that is light on petrol. It won't only be used to get to and from campus, and all those kilometres can cost parents more than expected.
3. Make sure the car has a boot with an inner lid as it can sometimes be missing from second-hand hatchbacks. The boot will be used to store everything from books to clothes and sporting gear and these items shouldn't be noticeable from the outside as they can pose a theft risk.
4. Consider opting for a car with four doors rather than two as friends often catch a lift to and from activities.
5. A smaller car is often easier to drive, because parking on campus can be a tight squeeze, particularly for a first-time driver.
6. If the car is for a novice driver, parents may want to choose a vehicle without too much power as the driver is still gaining experience.
7. A vintage car such as a Beetle may be trendy, but make sure that the engine is in good condition. It is difficult to determine the mechanical state of the engine during a test drive, so ask for the service records and if necessary have the car inspected by mechanic. The AA also offers technical inspections.
8. Parents should evaluate the cost of maintenance over time. Most of the larger car manufacturers' parts are readily available. A smaller car model from a well-known car brand, with a large volume of that same model on the road, usually has a lower maintenance cost than some of the unfamiliar brands.
9. Weigh up the cost to insure the vehicle. Some models cost more to insure than others. Also keep in mind that parking spaces on some campuses are limited so the car may have to be parked outside the campus gates, which poses a risk. Make the insurer aware of the car's likely locations during the day.
10. A tracking device may be thought of as an unnecessary expense, but if a student is very social, mom and dad will find it handy to be able to ping their location if it is getting late and they're not home yet or if they're driving home for the weekend from a campus in another city.