Learning to drive and getting a car was something I personally put off for the longest time I could. After moving away from home to come to university, though, the need for a reliable form of transport becomes more important: there’s only so many 6 hour Megabus journeys one man can take before he starts losing his mind. I’m not even going to lie to you, getting up and running as a young driver is a real hassle. But oh my, is it worth it. Let me take you through my crash-course on getting yourself on the road.
Learning to Drive
First things first, if you haven’t already, apply for your provisional driving license. It’s going to knock you back £34, but without it you won’t be able to learn how to drive. Having a provisional gives you access to lessons on all roads excluding motorways – it’s also a valid form of ID, and a heck of a lot cheaper than a new passport, so it’s not a bad way to spend the cash.
Once this is out of the way, it’s time to get yourself some lessons. I would highly recommend getting a friend who drives to show you the ropes a few times before you go for lessons. It doesn’t have to be anything intensive, just get someone to bring you to an empty car-park and show you the basics. I say this because the actual learning process can get very expensive. You want to be as clued up as possible before you start, so you learn quicker and don’t have to waste away too much time in the learning phase.
In terms of actually getting some lessons, the driving standards agency recommend a minimum of 47 hours in lessons before taking your test. With the average driving lesson costing £24 these days, this can sometimes rack up to over a grand. Like I said earlier, a good way to cut costs is to get a friend or family member to give you a few lessons in your spare time. This means less paid tuition, however only take the test when you’re absolutely ready. You don’t want to spend all your time and money on re-sits!
All this talk of money and expenses may be scaring you off the idea of getting a car already, however, keep in mind that once your lessons are done, they’re done. As with many points of getting yourself on the road, it will cost a lot to get going, but once it’s all sorted, you won’t be splashing out nearly as much.
Also, there’s a range of places that offer affordable lessons for young people. You don’t have to pay it all at once, sites like Pass n’ Go offer lots of different packages and courses to suit your budget.
Buying Your Car
We’re thinking a bit far into the future here, as truth be told it will take you a while to learn how to drive. Don’t get disheartened though, you’ll get there eventually, and if you do your research and work hard it won’t take nearly as long as you think.
However, even at this stage it’s important to start looking into it. There are many ways to buy and finance this purchase, it all depends on your personal preference and budget. Here are what I think are the best methods for broke students like you and me.
These are the standard show rooms or centres you see in every town and city. Obviously the benefit of this method is that you can see a variety of cars first-hand. However, be warned that you will have a salesman trying to shift his goods onto you. So, it’s important to keep a level head and always remember that you don’t have to walk out with the car that specific day.
You can get a range of purchases when you use a dealership, some which offer you monthly repayments and others that would ask you to pay all at one. Of cause, choose whatever your budget allows.
This is a good option for students as you can find some really great deals. However, beware that some second-hand cars may come with more problems than you bargained for. There’s a lot of Facebook groups and websites for used cars in local areas, however it’s vital that you check it out first. You don’t want to be spending more money on repairs than you do the car itself!
With all this mind, if I had to offer a best method for students to buy a cheap car that isn’t going to fall apart, I’d recommend buying second-hand online. Many are dubious about this, but if you do your research then it turns out cheaper, safer and more convenient. The most obvious starting point here would be Ebay. Providing the seller has positive feedback, then you will generally be okay, just make sure to ask the right questions.
Another option is the one I personally used when buying my first car, which was to buy second-hand online from a dedicated dealership. The great thing about this is that the cars are checked by experts and delivered straight to your door. This means you won’t be influenced by questionable sales-people and can take your time to pick something that suits you. The site I personally used was Carspring. This site offers a tool to work out your payment plan, as well as delivering it to your door. This is a relatively new method of buying vehicles, but the way technology is going, it’s definitely going to become more and more common.
Here we are, the final stretch. This is normally the part that people start to get worrisome about due to finances. Undeniably, insuring yourself can be stupidly expensive especially for new drivers. It’s good to do your research on this depending on your circumstances so you can cut costs where possible. There are many ways to make your insurance cheaper, such as insuring your vehicle to multiple people, or even getting a box installed to monitor your driving abilities. I’d personally use a site like Confused to compare different insurance plans. It just saves you the hassle of shopping around.
All in all…
Yes, all these steps can seem quite overwhelming and expensive, however it will be totally worth it once you’re up and running. Once you’ve sorted you lessons out and have your first car, the rest will get easier with time – and cheaper.
By Thom Anderson