They Won’t Teach This in Driving School: How to Choose Your First Car


Congratulations. After months of hard work, you finally received your driver’s license. Now you’ll need to buy a car. Your driving school didn’t teach you anything about this topic, but a car is a very expensive investment. So now you’ll have to do something for the first time in your life, without any training, and making the wrong decision can cost you thousands of pounds. What can possibly go wrong?

You can, of course, just set a budget and pick the most good-looking car you can buy for that amount of money. That’s what many people do. Doing it this way, you can purchase a rust wheel that will fall apart within a couple of months or you can find a hidden gem. You never know.

But at that point, you might as well just go to and bet that money on the roulette wheel. The effect on your pocket will be similar.

To help you choose your first car, we’ve compiled a list of tips that will help make your car buying experience feel less like playing a slot machine and more like making an informed investment decision.

Should My First Car Be New or Used?

There is no right or wrong choice here.

Proponents of buying used cars will tell you that the most expensive 100 yards you’ll ever drive are the ones off the dealer’s lot. They will also tell you that the car you buy, especially if it’s an upmarket car, will lose half of its value in the first 3-5 years. And that by going the ‘gently-used’ route you can buy a BMW on a Dacia budget.


Here are just a few of the advantages of buying used:

  • Lower purchase price and the ability to get a high-quality, premium automobile for a fraction of the cost that someone had paid for it just a few years ago.
  • Ability to learn to drive without the constant fear of scratching or denting an expensive new car.
  • If you don’t like the car and end up selling it in a year or so, you’ll lose a lot less money if you had bought it used.

Note: If you’ve decided to purchase your first car used, it is better to contact a major car dealership (or even buy certified pre-owned). Sure, the cars will be more expensive there, but you will usually be given a seller warranty and can be sure that at least some basic checks have been performed on the vehicle.

On the other hand, those in the other camp will talk about the fear of having your out-of-warranty car fail on you, tell horror stories of people spending more money on a year of car repairs than the car is worth, and praise recent advancements in terms of fuel economy, technology, and safety.

Here are the pros of buying new:

  • Fresh, modern design.
  • Advanced entertainment technologies.
  • Improved safety systems.
  • Greater reliability when compared to a used car from the same automaker.
  • The peace of mind that comes with having a manufacturer warranty.

What Should Your First Car Be?

When choosing a car as a new buyer, it is easy to be guided only by your aesthetic likes or dislikes. Try to see beyond that and think like an experienced driver. Here are a few things to think about.


For a novice driver, an entry-level or mid-range car is more than suitable. As we said above, driving experience always comes at the cost of almost inevitable damage to the car.

And putting a scratch on a vehicle whose cost is equivalent to an apartment is not a very pleasant situation to find yourself in.

But you shouldn’t buy the cheapest used car you can find, either. Such a car may constantly require repair and can quickly fail outright. Secondly, as a novice driver, you are already in a state of constant stress. The lack of minimal comfort, such as air conditioning or adjustable headrests, will only amplify this. Thirdly, a cheap car may not ensure the safety of the driver and passengers as well as a more expensive car.

Body Type

When choosing a car body type, three points must be taken into account:

  • Maneuverability, manageability. The more compact the car, the easier it is for you to feel its dimensions, which is especially important in conditions of dense city traffic. In addition, a small car will be much easier to park. If this is important to you, then choose a compact hatchback.
  • Trunk volume, cabin comfort. If the car is used by a large family with pets, then it is better to choose a station wagon or an SUV.
  • Off-road capability. If you need to drive a car out of town, especially in places where the roads are not always good, it is better to choose a crossover or an SUV with high ground clearance, large wheels, and, if possible, four-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Safety and Driver Assistance Systems

Traffic police statistics show that the most frequent participants in road accidents are not beginners, but more experienced drivers. Feeling confident behind the wheel, they disregard the rules more often than novices. Still, almost every novice driver still experiences the fear of getting into an accident.

Therefore, it is desirable that the first car be equipped with as many passive and active safety systems as possible. At the very least, the car you choose should have at least 6 airbags and seat belts with pretensioners. Additionally, you may want to look at buying something with:

  • Guided parking.
  • Preventive braking system.
  • Blind-spot monitoring.
  • Adaptive headlights.

The Main Mistakes When Buying Your First Car

The Main Mistakes When Buying Your First Car

Likewise, while you may be able to afford to buy an old ultra-premium car, you may not be able to afford to maintain it.

There’s a reason why that 7-series or S-Class costs less than a new Dacia, and it isn’t because the seller is giving you a good deal out of the goodness of their hearts.

Buying an illiquid model on the secondary market

Sooner or later, you will want to sell your first car in order to buy a new one.

Difficult to sell cars lose their price faster than more popular, convenient models. In addition, you will have to look for buyers for a longer time. During this time you may miss out on profitable offers to buy your next car. Therefore, study the demand and choose a car that is willingly bought on the secondary market.

So don’t buy that 1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 classic convertible in powder gray if you live in Aberdeen.