Making Your Model

What to Look for in Your First Used Car


photo by Nate Stetson

George Ivory, Reporter

For many high school students, buying your first car is a very exciting time, especially for students who work hard to save up enough money to buy their very own car. Once they gather enough money, they can finally purchase one and only one car from a variety of vehicles. For some, their perfect vehicle of choice may be at the end of a very obvious yellow brick road. For others, the number of vehicles available is overwhelming, not even including the many options that these vehicles may be equipped with. Whether it be powertrain, transmission, or what wheels drive your car, here are the pros and cons of such choices.

The most important thing in a car besides the engine is the wheels putting the power of the engine into action. In this department, you can either have two wheels or four wheels put down the power in more ways than most people want to know. First, two-wheel drive cars are more efficient but with less traction in bad weather. Second, a four-wheel drive means that the car is less efficient but better at handling bad weather, as it is normally a two-wheel drive car until switched into four-wheel drive by the driver. Last, all-wheel drive means that the car will send most of the power to the front wheels until it detects a loss of traction, at which point it will send power to the wheels with traction.

The next thing to look for is whether the car has a manual or automatic transmission. A simple and easy way to choose which one is best for you is whether you can drive a manual car or not. If you can drive a manual transmission and enjoy it, get a manual car. If you’ve never seen a manual transmission in your life and have no idea how to work it, get an automatic transmission car.

Now, the last main thing to check for when buying a used car is whether or not it is a certified car. If you’re buying a used car from a dealership, then it will most likely be a certified car. This means that the dealership has done a diagnostic test on the car to try and gauge if there are any problems. Buying a certified car means that you are buying a car that won’t self destruct as you drive off the lot.

If you plan on buying a car from a private seller, then it is very important to check the car thoroughly. While it may seem like a solid car on the surface, there could be a multitude of problems under the hood. One way to determine if the car is what the seller says it is is to ask to take it on a test drive. This allows you to not only get a feeling for the car but to see if the car is performing as the owner says it should. If possible, it is also a good idea to have someone with experience to look at the engine itself to see if the owner has had any mods done to it that he has not stated. This will ensure that the seller is being honest and intends to sell you what they said they would.

Cars are overall very complex vehicles. Each type of car is unique in its own way and therefore difficult to judge on a broad scale. But no matter what you plan to drive, always consider weighing the pros and cons, especially if it’s a Prius.