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Tips for entry-level buyers

Getting value for money and being able to keep their new car and new-found freedom on the road has proved to be the biggest factors for first time car buyers.

A recent survey by insurer SGIC found most first time car purchases are determined by how much people have saved or can borrow from the bank or their parents.

Not only does price determine what car they look for, including whether they buy a new or used vehicle, it also often affects the level of safety features first time car buyers get.

There are many things to consider apart from the look of the car, including safety features, engine size, whether to buy a small or large car, and running costs including petrol consumption, maintenance and even insurance.

SGIC state manager David Russell said while it wasn't top issue for young people, safety should be the number one priority for all car buyers.

“A recent SGIC survey found car buyers look at price and fuel consumption before they consider safety,” he said. “But, given the increased crash risk for people in the early stages of driving (16 to 21 years), safety really should be the key consideration.”

Mr Russell said young people shouldn't rush their purchase and should compare what is on offer.

Our site provides a great opportunity to search for vehicles and compare information on their safety, pricing, mileage and specifications.

“Our most basic advice would be to buy as recent a model vehicle as you can afford,” Mr Russell said.

“While an older car might be cheaper to buy, generally, the older they are the less safe they are. Also, an older car may end up costing you more in the long run because the vehicle will need more maintenance.”

There are new cars on the market that would make safe and value for money entry-level buys for young drivers. Among them are Toyota's Yaris, new Mazda2, Fiat Punto, Ford Fiesta and the Hyundai i30, launched this week. Research and compare vehicles at


What to look for

Tips for first car buyers who cannot afford a new or recent model car;

  1. A medium-sized or larger car will be safer than an old, small car.

  2. Make sure safety equipment is up to date and in good condition, especially seatbelts.

  3. Many cars from the late-1980s and early-90s have airbags and buyers at least should look for driver and passenger front airbags.

  4. Many cars are sold from the mid-1990s that feature ABS brakes.

  5. It is worth checking with your insurer before modifying or buying a modified vehicle.