Tips when buying a car as a college student

Having a car as a college student is pretty vital. After all, you need to make sure you can get to your midterms on time, take that girl out to the movies on a date and head to Walmart to stock up on school supplies. More important than having a car, however, is having one that runs and carries on working! You don’t want to be left relying on public transport at the last minute because your motor has decided to die! So how do you make sure you make the right decision when buying a car as a college student?

Think: What would my parents do?

You are not Danny, and you are not buying Greased Lightning. As much as you want a hot rod or a cool car to drive around town in, there are far more important things to check before deciding on a car because the color looks good. Would something about the condition of the car have your Mom asking questions? Have you checked everything that your Dad would? Channel the sensibilities of your parents before focusing on the aesthetics.

Look at the service records

The only real way to know how well the car was looked after by previous owners is by looking at the service records. No records, no sale. If on the other hand, you are given a massive file of service records, this could also be a cause for worry as this could suggest that the car has had a lot of issues. Don’t be too put off by plenty of service history of course as this should be able to show you that any repairs were done and so you could have a car with a brand new gearbox for example, and know that it shouldn’t cause you any trouble for a while.


Invest in a Carfax service as this will give you a true and honest background, service and accident history of the car you are looking to buy. You will be able to find out for sure how many owners the car has had without having to rely on the honesty of the person selling you the car.

Inspect the body

Of course, you want to look at the color of the car to see if you like it, but you also need to look much closer at the paint job too to make sure the body panels are the same color. If you can see that there is even a slight variation in colors, this could suggest that there was work done on the body that wasn’t reported as part of the service record which could communicate hidden damage. Remember that the person selling the car might not be being totally honest.

Think about the motivations

If someone is selling a car that they have only owned for a few months, you need to be asking why. For example, Is it that they have noticed an issue with the engine or transmission? Is it generally not a good car to run? Find out the reasons before money changes hands – after all, it could be something innocent, but it’s best you know so that you are not lumbered with a faulty motor.

Make sure you take your time when you are looking to buy a car – you might regret a rushed transaction. Follow these tips and enjoy happy cruising!