I remember when I first started learning to drive. I was excited, overwhelmed, and nervous all in one. Fast forward two years and I ventured out to car shopping for my first vehicle. I had absolutely no clue what to look for other than lower mileage and does it drive. My mom called my cousin who both worked at Ford to come to help me look at a couple of cars I was interested in looking at a dealership. I ended up purchasing a vehicle that only had one previous owner. It was a 1994 Ford Tempo that had maybe 30k miles on it and it was already 6 years old.
When you first set out to do some car shopping, I bet you were overwhelmed. I know I was. Sometimes, you have a tiny little budget to work with, other times, you have a huge budget. Either way, you need to know what to look for in a car, whether it is a used car or brand new. You also have to factor in car maintenance as well.
What do you wish you knew before owning a car?
Who did you learn from?
What if you could have learned independently so that the journey belonged to you and no one else?
CAR SHOPPING: IMPORTANT FACTS FOR TEENS & YOUNG ADULTS
New -vs- Used
You do not always have to purchase new, but if you can, make sure you do your research. Do not buy a new car just because it is the latest and coolest looking. Check into crash test ratings, consumer reports, and specs on the vehicle. Not all expensive cars are better than their lower and more cost-effective competitors. There are many higher-end cars that have horrible crash ratings, while their more cost-effective counterparts have higher ratings.
When you go out on your car buying journey, make sure you test drive your vehicle. Take it on the highway, country roads, in the city, and so on. If the salesman has to drive with you, of course, allow them but tell them to keep the “sales pitch” out of the car. You are trying to listen for sounds, clunking, and so on. Plus, they can be a distraction with you trying to figure the car out and see and feel how it is handling the road conditions. I tend to like car shopping when it's raining or snowing. you will be able to test how the vehicle handles the conditions you will be driving in.
If this is your first time venturing out in the car shopping phase of life, chances are you do not have any or very little credit. Financing can be an option, and while it is a good way to build credit, if you are not careful, you can easily hurt your credit before even helping it. I tend to tell dealerships $100 less monthly than what I know we can afford. That gives me wiggle room in case there is an unexpected expense.
If you do not have the credit you will probably need to have a co-signer. I would make sure that you and your co-signer talk everything over, and maybe even come up with an agreement that if they have to take over payments for whatever reason, that you have to pay them back in full within so many days or months.
For more tips on car buying for teens and young adults, check out Chaya Milchtein at Mechanic Shop Femme.
Queer automotive educator, writer, and speaker Chaya Milchtein creates a virtual auto education class for teens and young adults. 10% of gross revenue will be donated to Kids Matter and directed for car shopping for a young person who was in the foster care system.
Chaya Milchtein wants to equip teens and young adults with fundamental car knowledge to get them on the road safely and confidently — because knowledgeable drivers are safer drivers. Mechanic Shop Femme’s teen auto class is like digital preparatory school for young people of all learning levels – a teen learner’s manual made easy!
As a foster kid, I didn’t have the opportunity to get my drivers license until I was 18 years old. I bought my first car myself after searching the internet for as much advice as I could get. The same day I drove the car off the lot, it wouldn’t start. I want to help empower young people to have the basic knowledge BEFORE they buy and before they make choices that could backfire.Chaya Milchtein
With car shopping basics like an overview of the Car Manual, Basic Maintenance, and How To Say ‘No’ To a Mechanic, Chaya Milchtein wishes to equip teens with the knowledge and confidence to make them safe, engaged, responsible drivers, and car owners.
As an automotive educator, I know that while a well-purchased car can be a ticket out of poverty, it can also feel like quicksand if not purchased with care and knowledge. Often, people spend more than they need to, unknowingly purchase a car with mechanical problems, or utilize a predatory loan service for the purchase. This class is intended to educate young people at an early age before they’re too far into the car ownership journey so they don’t make mistakes that can easily be prevented.Chaya Milchtein
Mechanic Shop Femme is an auto education and empowerment platform. Chaya Milchtein teaches classes, writes, and speaks about cars. The goal of Mechanic Shop Femme is to teach valuable basics to the average car owner, as well as providing essential routine maintenance lessons to extend the life of the car and keep drivers and their families safe on the road. Milchtein’s work has been featured in digital and print publications like Shondaland, Twin Cities PBS, The Inventory, The Chicago Tribune, The Advocate, a front-page feature in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Go Magazine.
Mechanic Shop Femme/Chaya Milchtein is available for interviews and podcast features. For
article or booking inquiries, please contact [email protected].