In an age where student college expenses are running out of control, you would think the notion of trying to find affordable transport for a college student would be an impossible search. With a positive attitude, transportation can be had. Is there such a thing as affordable cars for college students?
Sometime over your child’s terms of college enrollment, ownership (or possession) of a car will be required. The question for the provider of these vehicles (in most cases a parent) is how to obtain one that is both mechanically sound and physically safe to operate without adding another payment to your current debt situation. (Those that wish to add the qualifications of current and stylish have entered into another level of financial obligation, which should be discussed with your attorney while reviewing your trust accounts.) For all others, trying to help their children and dependents make it through college without accruing a student loan equal to an orthodontic appointment, here are some considerations that might prove valuable.
New Cars Break Budgets
While most parents would love to present their child with a brand new car, the reality is, new will break the budget. Based on new car prices listed in the 2013 Kelley Blue Book, the average cost of a new car is over $32,000. At the same time, the cost of a three to four year vehicle in 2013 was $15,900 (about half the cost as new)
So what can you do to drive the cost of a used car down? The answer is adverse selection. Search for cars that no used car lot wants. Think big and clumsy. Eliminate cars that can be describe as “cute”, “sporty”, “stylish”, or “trendy.” Concentrate on descriptive words like “bulky”, “sturdy”, “dated”, “bland”, or “dependable.” There is a fine line between “cruiser” and “boat”. Finding that line and crossing it can save you lots of money.
In the world of cheap transportation, one can never underestimate the importance of a high odometer number. Remember in the low priced auto game, experience is king! With today’s auto engines can easily last 200,000 miles in a well-cared for vehicle. So look for plus 200K motors with lots of repairs. Hopefully most critical part will have been replaced.
It can pay to set your own trends! For years car industry experts looked down on the Edsel. It was a big and ugly car that nobody wanted; now it is a highly desirable classic car. To get the best deal now, think old and pre-classic, avoid sleek and chic. Think AMC Pacer, Buick Rendezvous or Lincoln.
Much like real estate a smart car shopper thinks “location, location, location!” Search for cars in older people’s garages. A smart way to find them is to follow people home from food demo days at the grocery store. Be on the lookout for drivers whose licenses were revoked a number of years ago. Remember dusty Buicks are potential diamonds in the rough.
Car color can be a huge factor. Cars painted in team colors can go in and out of vogue. Dependable deals can always be found in cars painted Detroit Honolulu Blue or decorated with San Diego Charger Lightning Bolts.
For optimal discounts off used car prices consider dents. Unsightly damage to non-critical areas of the car (like the hood or trunk) can drastically reduce the sticker price. Damaged passenger doors are another sure fired price reduction.
Oil Is Gold
Don’t underestimate the benefits of an oil leak. A nasty pool of black oil under a car’s engine presents an unending negotiation opportunity. Many car owners do not consider the savings of never having to do an oil change. With the constant addition of new oil to the leaking crankcase, your bearings will be bathed in fresh factory additives.
Lastly, also consider the cost of insuring the car. Removing the need for full coverage for that vehicle and purchasing a “Liability Only” policy can save you thousands in unneeded insurance costs. Make sure you discuss any car purchase with your local insurance agent.
Above all when purchasing a bargain basement car for your student, remember more and likely it will not be parked in your driveway. It will be parked miles away in a school’s parking lot.
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