Buying a Car for Your College-Bound Kid


Your child is heading to college. You probably have a thousand things on your to-do list, and one of them is not to cry in front of his new roommates. It’s a thrilling yet overwhelming time, but everything will go smoothly as long as you’re prepared. One of the things you might want to take care of sooner rather than later is getting your child a car for university life.

While many students are able to walk or bike to classes, a car can be convenient for errands, trips home, and getting to class in inclement weather. If you’re in this situation and not sure where to start, read on for things you need to consider when buying a car for your college-bound kid.

Go For a Small to Mid-Sized Car

While an SUV is fantastic for family life, many of them aren’t known for getting great gas mileage. As your child will most likely be driving long distances and (hopefully!) won’t be driving many people around, a small to mid-sized sedan will usually work quite well. With gas prices on the rise and college students usually on the relatively poor side, well, you do the Math.

Consider the Climate

You’ll obviously want to get a car that handles well in the climate of your child’s college town. If your daughter is going to college in a town that gets snow, ice, rain, or other conditions that can be a bit intimidating to drive in, you’ll want to consider all-wheel or four-wheel drive cars. These types of vehicles tend to handle these weather conditions more effectively.

If you live in Maryland, consider going for this Audi near Baltimore. The Audi A3 is able to handle slick conditions due to the quattro permanent drive system, but even the knowledgeable staff at the dealership will tell you to get winter for peace of mind.

Ponder a Pre-owned Vehicle

If you’ve done the math on how much this degree is going to cost you (if you’re paying, that is!), you’re likely hoping to avoid spending the rest of your savings on a car. A pre-owned vehicle could be a great option, as long as you do your due diligence. As this US News article suggests, these seven things are crucial to used car buying success: do your research, set your budget, know your financing options, run a Carfax accident report, do a test drive, be prepared to walk away from negotiations, and get the car inspected.

The last step is probably the most important, as you otherwise run the risk of getting a “lemon”. Some car sellers will try to rush and pressure you in order to get you to skip the inspection, which is already a huge red flag.

Safety, Safety, Safety!

A thousand terrifying scenarios have already probably been running through your head about your child’s college experience. The last thing you need is to add to this by wondering if the car you’ve gotten him is safe. Make sure to check the safety ratings. Newer cars are now coming equipped with some very high-tech safety features so, if this is a priority for you, you might want to skip going the used car route. As this article put out by Nationwide Insurance points out:

“Options such as anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, and electronic stability control have been around for a few years and bring added safety measures for drivers. If it comes down to a choice between a slightly older, less expensive car without these safety features and a newer car with the features included, think about the benefit of those safety options.”

Fuel Economy FTW

We mentioned the correlation between car size and fuel economy already, and the importance can’t be understated. Gas can really add up and fast, so you want to get your daughter a car that gets good gas mileage—especially if she’s using it on road trips home or other places. If you’re not sure where certain cars land when it comes to fuel economy, check out this list by put out by Consumer Reports earlier this year.

Your “baby” is leaving the nest! The emotions are surely coming fast and furious at this point. Follow these tips for getting a car that will please you and your soon-to-be college student and you’ll be able to have one less thing to worry about on this next life adventure.

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