Beginning Car/ Car Insurance questions.

DarkMuseJune 15, 2005

Hello. I will be turning sixteen in a few days and it occured to me that I know next to nothing about cars, auto insurance and other such things that I will need to know when I get a car. So I got on the net and started searching around a bit, but when I tried to find information on auto insurance it was mostly ads, not that it was a problem, except that their quote calculator things were designed for people who have already had car insurance, so I couldn't easily find a way to get a quote or compare the prices I could expect to pay for such services. Then I decided to try something simpler and look for used cars in my area, but I quickly discovered that, as I know almost nothing about cars, I didn't really know what I was looking for. So I decided to find a good auto forum somewhere online, since I've gotten help from nice people online with other subjects.

This is where you come in. I neeed suggestions on a good car brand or model to look for that you think would work well for someone in my age group (i.e. runs well, is cheap) and it needs to be a roomy car, as I am somewhat tall (6'2'' or so, and getting taller.)

Secondly, any information you think I should have about auto insurance, such as how much I can expect to pay, what company offers the best rates, or whatever other information you can think of (like I said, I don't know anything about it, so everything will be appreciated.)

Third, an estimate on how much I can expect to pay, say, per week on gas, especially with the car you reccomend taken into consideration (since a fuel efficient car would be easier on my budget.)

Lastly, just tell me anything you wish you'd known when you went out to get a car when you were my age. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

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I like GM cars for everyday drivers - guy your height might want to look for a mid sized one with an electric powered seat adjuster - they go up/down forward/back and tilt - down and back could be important for you.

If you take the time to look around here, you eventually can find that little old lady or senior citizen car thats in the $1000 - $2000 range with low miles and a noisy muffler. Mufflers rotted from never getting completely dry on short trips to Sunday Church and the grocery but otherwise the cars are usually well maintained.

Insured, man you need to talk to your parents insurance agent/carrier and see what it would cost for the particular make and model and year car you choose to add to their policy. Insurance aint cheap for young guys, but added to a parents policy can be super reasonable for a school transportation car. Then when you finish college and start earning the big bucks splurge on a used corvette and the really big insurance bill when you're on your own.

Gas cost a bunch, so it depends on how many miles your drive .. let your friends share the costs and try to avoid the temptation to see the world until you can afford it.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 9:03AM
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Your best bet in a used car will be a well-maintained American car. I don't want to get into the U.S./rest of the world "discussion" being held on other threads. I'll just say that proper maintenance has more to do with a car's trouble-free operation than where it is made.

Right now, there are some decent American cars out there, but perception has not caught up with the reality, so American cars suffer more depreciation than many foreign cars. As a buyer of a used car, you can take advantage of that. Some of the cars you might want to look at include the Ford Taurus, or just anything midsize or larger from GM. I'm guessing that, since you got to the age of 16 without being a "gearhead," you mostly want a comfortable, reliable car. These will do the job. They shouldn't cost a fortune for insurance, either.

Mikie is right -- even if you're paying for your own insurance, it will be cheaper to piggyback on your parents' policy than it will be for you to go solo. Ask about discounts if you get good grades in school or are willing to drive only a certain number of miles per month, etc.

Finally, what else I wish I'd known about cars at your age? Having a car is a joy and a privilege -- and a responsibility. As a teenager, you have the benefit of quick reflexes and (I hope) formal training. You can be an excellent driver. But there's no substitute for experience -- especially at night in the rain and on icy roads. I knew how to steer out of a skid -- until the first time I found myself in one and narrowly missed a fence as I spun into a farmer's field. It's different when it really happens.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you're immortal (every teenager thinks so; so did I). You're in control of almost two tons of metal and glass and plastic, so be careful. When I was 16, nobody had cell phones and we were lucky if the car had an FM radio, nevermind multi-channel stereo systems and iPod links and the like. I know teenagers are better at multi-tasking than they used to be, but you still have one primary task in a car -- driving. Don't be distracted by fiddling with the stereo or talking with friends. It's okay to concentrate on driving. Professional auto racers do.

Have fun! Getting my first car was a blast. I hope you find one you really like and have many happy miles with it.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 11:10AM
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Some excellent advice ..
Yes, but I still like my VW and Saabs, one must be a DIY in at least most areas of car and home upkeep.

Cost but 70 cents to fix the Chevrolet shift linkage.The Buick starter was "repaired" with masking tape on the field and new bushings.. The Hudson head was, either 5 or 10 dollars - this was a mistake - the engine was finished..
First car purchase, I was headstrong and brain weak !

I forget about the insurance, but it was affordable back then.Working at least 20 hours per week and attending school was the way of life...

Best to buy privately, most POs(previous owners) are decent people, avoid many dealerships - they cannot be trusted, and routinely overcharge..My Chevy cost $28 at a used car place, the engine had bad rod bearings, I destroyed it, and sold her for $35 !

DarkMuse, you seem to be one smart cookie..Those who say they "know nothing" usually know more than those who "know everything"..

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 11:41AM
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I think your profile says Iowa - try online quotes so you know what you are working with. Try www or www

Additionally, get a car which fits the local market - what I mean by that - don't buy a foreign car if every other car on the street is a Dodge pick-up or vice versa don't buy a pick-up if every other car is a Toyota. Easier to find parts and cheaper qualified knowledgeable techs to work on your car.

As you buy a used vehicle you will learn quickly about your car and should be eager to learn tips/tricks to maintain it from mechanics, friends, parents, etc. Additionally, drive slowly and don't push your vehicle or yourself.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 12:07PM
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If you buy a used car, check for the availability of the shop manual CD-ROMs on Ebay, and for the availability of a Hayne's manual at your local bookstore.

These will tell you how to do many maintenance tasks yourself. The Hayne's manual is good for a general overview, and the shop manual is good for the details.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 12:12PM
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Look for a car that has good rating in safety. I drove a 2001 Cavalier (lemon) and when I replaced it with a brand new 2005 Honda Accord, my insurance went up $10. The Accord cost 3x that of the Cavalier and I even lower my deductible from $500 to $250 on the Accord. Honda rates in the top 5 in the 'most stolen' list too so that surprised me.

If you are looking for a reliable car with good fuel economy, check out the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla. They have very good Certified Used Programs if you are looking to buy used.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 1:36PM
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Do NOT buy a Honda Civic if you care about your insurance rates. They have a reputation for attracting a certain type of driver and believe me that the insurance companies are well aware of it and charge accordingly.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 1:52PM
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Get a car worth less than $2000. Drive carefully and carry liabilty insurance only. That will keep the premium down a bunch. Collision insurance will drive the price up. That's the reason to drive a cheep car at this point. Don't wreck it for a couple years and you'll have already saved what the insurance premium would have cost if you. I'd guess liablity would be $400-ish every 6 months. Think that's what my daughters' is.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 8:07AM
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