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How to Find Affordable Used Cars on a Student Budget

Student life can be a lot to handle. From travelling to and from campus to spending long hours at the library, having a car of your own can seem like a blessing when you need to come and go as you please. The only problem, however, is that cars are expensive and it’s hard to find a good deal that fits a student budget. But, there are ways for you to purchase a car on a budget. As long as you have money saved up and you follow the right steps.

It’s always important to do your research before purchasing a car, and since you’re on a budget, you need to have an idea of which car fits your budget. In South Africa, there are a few vehicles that are affordable for students on a budget. For example, you can look out for:

  • Renault Sandero
  • Ford Figo (read our review on the FIGO Trend Sedan)
  • Volkswagen
  • Chevrolet Spark
  • Kia Picanto
  • Honda Brio Batch
  • Hyundai i10

These cars come at a very good price range and are even more affordable when they’re pre-loved vehicles. Although you don’t have to choose from the list above, it can be a helpful guideline if you’re unsure of what vehicle is in your budget range. Now that you have an idea of what car you can purchase, read down below for informative tips on how you can find affordable used cars.

Buy from an auction house

You may be reluctant to purchase a vehicle from an auction because of myths you may have heard. But most of those myths are just that, myths. Yes, you may get a car that’s in bad shape, but that can happen even if you purchase a vehicle from a private seller or a car dealership. Finding the right car that’s in good condition is about doing sufficient research before making a purchase. Many people have found good quality vehicles at a car auction in Cape Town and other cities in South Africa.

Now, you can browse online car auctions which will give you a list of all the vehicles that will be showcased during the live auction. So, you’re able to get an idea of the available cars, and you can go to the auto auction house the day before to take a look at the vehicles. That way, you can be at ease when the auction date comes, knowing that you aren’t going into the auction blindly. Here are a few tips to help you during your journey:

  • Go to a few auctions beforehand to get an idea of how everything works.
  • Take the mileage into consideration.
  • Make sure you go for a pre-auction inspection of the vehicle of your choice. That way, you can have a close up of the vehicle and see if you’re happy with it.
  • Take someone who knows more about cars with you during the inspection and bidding processes.
  • Take your time, don’t get too excited and always keep your budget in mind.

This will help you make the best of your situation and will help you purchase your car. A key thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be in a hurry. If you don’t find anything you like, then wait for the next auction.

Always be on the lookout

As a student, you’re so swamped with school work and your social life, that you may have missed a vehicle or two that had a “for sale” sign. So, now that you’re interested in purchasing a car, make sure you’re on the lookout, and when you see one, take the vehicle owner’s numbers down. When you have time, contact the seller to find out the pricing information and the car’s history. You never know what you may find. It would also be ideal to have more than one option so that you can compare car prices.

Another way to ensure you get a good deal is to use a car value calculator. This tool will help you see how much the vehicle is worth, ensuring you don’t get scammed into purchasing something that’s not for you. While looking, ask your friends and family to look around, and as we all know, two eyes are always better than one. So, even if you don’t see it, someone else might.

Check for cars on sale online

Female student using a laptop

Most students spend their time searching for something online, so what better way to find vehicles for sale than to Google it. Take a look at online classifieds to see if you can find a worthwhile deal. Private sellers can often have affordable prices, as they are trying to sell the vehicle faster, so use that to your advantage. But, be careful of a deal that seems too good to be true. Instead, do your research, ask the seller everything you need to know to ensure you feel confident in your purchase. Make sure you also ask for all the paperwork before purchasing the vehicle

Visit a car dealership

If all else fails, you can visit a car dealership. Dealerships sell affordable cars that may fit your budget. They have a wide variety to choose from, which can be helpful when you are uncertain of what you want or need. Although dealerships are known for pushing buyers into a deal, it would be helpful to be accompanied by an adult who can help you when you’re feeling cornered. Lastly, make sure you check the vehicle’s history before making any payment to make sure you are purchasing a car in reliable condition, and that can last you for a few years.

Key tips to remember

Hand holding a car key

If this is your first car purchase, it is easy to get swayed into purchasing a vehicle that isn’t right for you or one that may not fit your lifestyle. So, always keep these few things in mind:

  • Forget about looking for a dream car. Look for a car that can take you from point A to point B. When you are older, and in a better financial position, then you can purchase a car that you love.
  • Keep additional costs in mind when looking for a vehicle. Think of insurance, petrol, maintenance, service plan and replacement parts. But, that does not mean you should purchase a cheap car because you’re trying to cut down on costs as that car might end up costing more in the long run.
  • Always decide on a car budget before going to any auctions, private sellers or dealerships. This will help you stick to your initial budget and not get persuaded into anything else.
  • Always ask for the vehicle history to see if the car has been involved in any accidents previously.

Final thoughts

Purchasing your very first car is one of the biggest milestones in your young adult life. And although it’s an exciting moment in your life, the process can become stressful, especially as a student. This is why you need to do your research before you make any commitment, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have family or friends that know more about cars, especially second-hand ones, then ask them for help. Do your research, ask for help and always follow your instincts because when a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.

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