Girls Cars - emma_18
Hi guys,

I'm new to this site and new to driving having just passed my test (2nd try). I need a car for uni and was wondering what to buy. Don't have much money to spend, so it's got to be cheap to buy and run.

I was thinking about a Metro or one of those Kias perhaps. They seem to be cheap n cheerful.

Bit worried about driving too. How do you cope with all the aggression out there? Looking forward to the freedom a car will give me though...

Thanks and bye 4 now......
Girls Cars - Roger Jones

You'll get plenty of good suggestions here, but I'm responding only to wish you well in driving safely.

As for aggression, take pity on the aggressors, stay well away from them, and NEVER respond in kind. The safety factor most widely ignored seems to be the distance between your vehicle and those around you; get that right and your sense of security will be well founded. Apply that discipline in all circumstances; for instance, when in a queue, stay well back from the car in front -- if you can't see its rear wheels touching the ground, you're too close -- and when following large vehicles you should be able to see their wing mirrors, because if you can't then their drivers can't see you.

And, above all, drive on the assumption that, as in life in general, most people don't think most of the time; it's up to you to anticipate their stupidity.
Girls Cars - Ivor E Tower
Similar advice - keep relaxed, don't even think about trying to get your own back on someone who wrongs you, don't be intimidated by anyone, don't make eye contact with other drivers, anticipation is everything and think and act as if the only person driving with a brain is YOU. Also, concentrate the whole time, don't get carried away listening to radio/CD/tapes or fellow passengers. Learn from others mistakes that you see going on around you. After a year or two of this, you should be a much better, safer driver.
Unfortunately for a new driver, insurance costs will usually play a large part in deciding what car you can afford to drive. However do take comfort into account - if you feel uncomfortable, even slightly, in a car, you will not be as good or safe a driver as you would be if you were comfortable. So do try out a number of diferent cars before making a purchase.
Good luck and safe driving.
Girls Cars - PoloGirl
Stay well back, turn your mobile off and give lorries plenty of room!

Seriously, though... if you've only got enough to afford a cheap car like the ones you describe, think carefully about whether you really need a car right now.

The problem is that these cars tend to go wrong, and while having the freedom of your own transport is nice, you may find that public transport is the cheaper option at the moment. There is a lot of expense involved in going to uni, and you don't need the added problem of unexpected work, high insurance and failed MOTs.

If you're moving away to uni, you'll more than likely be living near to the campus and wont need to use your car on a day to day basis. University campus carparks are notoriously unsecure and students aren't the most careful parkers anyway, so you'll collect a nice array of dents in the side of your beloved first car.

I took my car with me to uni last year. It cost more than you are looking to spend so was very reliable (it's a vw!) and wasn't going to be a financial burden. However, it turned out that I didn't need to use it day-to-day and I worried about it all the time because of where it was parked. It turned out that train tickets bought one or two weeks in advance were loads cheaper than a tank of petrol to go home for the weekend. Also, very few students take their cars to uni and you will become taxi driver to everyone!

My first car was a Fiat Uno - cost me a grand and I spent twice that on it keeping it on the road for two years! Now I've got a VW Polo and it's protected me through accidents where a cheaper car would have meant serious injury for me.

Sorry if this puts a damper on the excitement of getting on the road, but it may pay to wait a while. Well done on passing the test though and good luck at uni! :)
Girls Cars - davemar
Not really sure a Metro is so good a choice as they are all pretty long in the tooth these days, are not renowned for their reliability, and can rust a fair bit. Not sure about Kias, always looked a bit cheap and nasty to me, and might be a bit too rare to be easy for spares. A 205 might be a better bet, they don't rust, and they are fun to drive, even the bottom end ones are quite nippy.

As for coping with aggression, is to try not to provoke others by poor or selfish driving. Don't hog lanes on motorways or dualcarriages, keep left if not overtaking. If you find you've got a convoy building up behind you on a single carriageway road, you might be going slower than other's expectations, so pull over and let them pass. Try and thank people and smile when you need to be let of out side roads in traffic jams, or in narrow streets with parked cars. Be prompt at traffic lights when they turn green, while its not a drag race try and be reasonably brisk well pulling away.
Don't force others to brake or change lane if you can really help it. If someone is flashing you (with their lights that is!!) then have you left your fog-light on, or something like that? They might be trying to help you, not being aggressive.

Just think what winds you up about other motorists; and try to avoid doing that yourself!
Girls Cars - Clanger
My eldest has just finished at Nottingham Trent and has managed without a car for the last 3 years by scrounging lifts off others, using buses, taxis and a bicycle. I'm with PoloGirl here, you'ld be in a minority if you really needed a car. Channel your money into other student necessities like alcohol, pasta, mobile phone calls and books.

She(eldest) has some horror stories of her car-owning student friends being fleeced by unscrupulous local garage owners. Don't be in a hurry to buy your first wheels.

Stranger in a strange land
Girls Cars - king arthur
When you say you don't have much money to spend, how much exactly? Remember to factor in the cost of the insurance, which could well be more than the car.

If you're looking at older cars, say 8 or 9 years old, try an old shape Polo. Absolutely reliable, cheap to run, and solidly built. Might be hard to find with PAS but you only need it when parking. Should be able to find one of the last ones on L or M plate for not much over a grand.
Girls Cars - Nsar
Amen to all the posters suggesting you wait before taking the plunge - uni is quite a small world and you'll be living pretty close to the campus I'd guess and the transport from student accomodation areas to the campus and city centre is always good. If you do decide to go for it, buy at home with people you trust to help you, not your new found uni friends

As regards hacking it out on the road I can only pass on the words of my instructor which so far has kept me out of any trouble for the last 22 years - don't look at the car in front, it tells you nothing, always look two or three cars ahead, that's where the trouble will come from.
Girls Cars - Hugo {P}

Welcome to the BR!

There's plenty of good advice here about driving with both brain and gearbox in gear, so can't add any more here.

As to which car to go for

Metro - for your budget avoid unless its very cheap, got a years MOT and you can afford to bin it after that.
205,Citroen AX/ZX, worth a look. very rarely fail the MOT for Rust. The AX is obviously the smaller car here.
Renault 5 - Avoid like the plage build quality is rubbish
Renault Clio - worth a good look
Fiesta - Great little car, can be a bit pricy
VW Golf - Again, a great car, can be pricy, as with all models that hold their value, there will be a lot of overpriced rubbish around.

Also, I would seriously avoid buying from a dealer for your money, unless you happen to find one that will 'Trade' you a good car ie sell to you as if you were trade. Even then you shouldn't pay more that £300 to £500 for a 10 year old car unless it's really good.

Alternitively a trip down the auction with a trustworthy knoledgeble friend is a good idea

In addition, I don't know where you are, but have a look at the Classifieds on this site - A Talbot Horizon (Escort Size) with 66K is going begging. No street cred, but if the price is right.... and they're solid as well!
Girls Cars - emma_18
Thanks for all the useful advice so far. I've thought about what you've all said, but I really want my own wheels. I'm in Edinburgh, where the public transport is v good, but there's lots of places to go up here and a car would be handy.

I've got a budget(for buying the car) of around £600...
Girls Cars - smokie
I like Fiestas...should be able to comfortably find one at that price
Girls Cars - tunacat
Am I being rash in also suggesting a '93-on Nissan Micra?
(with the usual proviso that it's had regular, decent-quality oil changes to protect its chain cam drive)

Only group 3 insurance for the 1.0 too.
Girls Cars - king arthur
Am I being rash in also suggesting a '93-on Nissan Micra?
(with the usual proviso that it's had regular, decent-quality oil changes
to protect its chain cam drive)
Only group 3 insurance for the 1.0 too.

Won't get one for 600 quid.

Emma, I'd suggest for that money a Fiesta on perhaps an L plate. Try and find one that's not too rusty. Citroën AX is another possibility, these are going very cheap these days but try to get the lowest mileage possible and make sure the mechanical bits are okay. You'd have to put up with collapsable trim and poor driving position though. Or, like I said, perhaps an 8 or 9 year old Polo.
Girls Cars - Wales Forester
If you're in Edinburgh there's a fantastic bus network, take a look, you may be pleasantly surprised.

I subscribe to the theory that you'll manage just fine without a car so why bother adding stress to your life, there's plenty of time for that after Uni.

Good luck.
Girls Cars - Welliesorter
As a Midlander, who didn't buy his first car until he was well into his thirties, I've long envied the inhabitants of Edinburgh their public transport and cycle paths.

ScotRail allow bicycles on trains, putting some of the most spectacular bits of Scotland within travelling distance. Catch a train to Bridge of Allan or Dunblane and you're close to the edge of the Trossachs.

And, at the risk of sounding like a knit-your-own-yoghurt type, I believe there's some sort of car pooling arrangement being set up in Edinburgh. A quick Google brings I don't know whether they allow recently qualified drivers to join but it's worth investigating.
Girls Cars - DavidHM
A girl at work, also called Emma, is in a similar situation. Her brother is a mechanic, so reliability isn't quite as much of an issue, but she's been looking at AXs, 91 on Polos, Fiestas, 205s and Fiat Unos (90 on).

I'm not sure I would avoid a well kept, cheap R5 like the plage - French for beach - but only if cheaper or newer than the competition.

Above all, rust hurts. You can usually find a mate who knows a bit about cars to do the easy stuff (oil, plugs, filters, shockers) or take it to a fast fit or whatever, but if it rusts, it's time to call the professionals in. Without wanting to be outrageously sexist, I think even a semi knowledgeable bloke like me is less likely to be ripped off than a girl on her own, so drag one along if your car ever does need work.

For that reason I'd be reluctant to consider most small cars other than those listed as pretty much anything else (including the Fiesta, actually, but they are so plentiful they can't be avoided completely) will rust quite badly at this age. The dates are significant because post 90 Unos were galvanised IIRC and certainly don't rust as much as earlier ones; and the late 1990 facelift of the Polo introduced a brake servo. Earlier ones will basically feel as if they have no brakes if you've never driven anything that old before.

Finally, look at your life and see if it really needs a car. If you find that lack of a car is stopping you from doing what you want to do, then fine, but if you're only buying a car to avoid occasional taxi fares, it simply doesn't add up.
Girls Cars - Martin Wall
Edinburgh city centre is a real pain to get parked in - also I believe the local council plans to introduce a congestion charge as well....

A £600 car will *not* be reliable - you can take that as read. You'll find people on this site who disagree with me but then they probably do all their own servicing on the cheap. Are you mechanically-minded?

Also if something goes wrong (and it will) the repair costs could easily be well over that. You have road tax, insurance, petrol, repairs, the inevitable paring tickets, punctures, parking tickets - it can all add up.

If you want to get 'out and about' at weekends you have great rail links from Edinburgh and if there are a few times that you really *need* a car then renting a car a few times a year will be cheaper.

I'm really sorry to 'rain on your parade' as it were, but I don't like to see somedbody spend their hard-earned cash and end up with a financial liability.

Also - if you are not driving you won't have a any problems when you pop out for a few drinks!

Anyway, good luck whatever you decide to do and have a great time at university.
Girls Cars - Martin Wall
ps - sorry if it sounds as though myself and others are being miserable s**s by saying "don't get a car - wait until after university" it's just I've lost track of the number of times I've seen people eager to get a first car when very young and really regret it.....
Girls Cars - NitroBurner
Hi Emma,

If you want a car, then go 4 it.

Being a bit of a Vauxhall fan, I'd suggest a Nova. Plenty of street cred, but avoid any that have been modified in any way.
Dead cheap to service & run.

Good luck...

Girls Cars - Sooty Tailpipes
Yes, you can get a K-reg Nova and have change left for repairs. But like the other poster says, avoid ones that young lads have messed up.

I think the Vx would be cheaper to run than the French ones, as the parts are easier to get from the scrapyard, and Peugeot dealers charge loads for those parts you can only get from the dealer.
Girls Cars - IKM
My daughter and several of her friends have bought Ford Ka's for about £25 a week over 5 years and virtually no deposit. For that you get a brand new car that's very highly rated, and fun to drive and with a 3 year warranty.

Unless you have the services of an experienced mechanic all you will get from a £600 car is a few months of unreliable and unpleasant motoring and lots of repair bills.

Best of luck.
Girls Cars - Ellen
Emma, is your £600 budget just for the car, or for car plus insurance? If you have not already done it, get a few quotes before you buy anything ... good luck! If you can afford a car it will improve your quality of life, but they are all money pits.
Girls Cars - J Bonington Jagworth
Plenty of good advice above that I'll try not to complicate. I love cars and I had one relatively early, but I've been poor ever since! Do explore the alternatives (scooter, electric bike?) or find a friend with a car that you can share petrol money with. £600 will buy quite a lot of public transport, although I know it doesn't feel so independent.

WRT the driving:

Three rules, quite easy
Should be known by all
Would-be arrivers
Who set out on wheels

That roads are greasy
Safety margins small
And fellow drivers
Fellow imbeciles

(Piet Hein)

Illegitimi non carborundum!
Girls Cars - eMBe {P}
>>..Don't have much money to spend, so it's got to be cheap to buy and run ..>>

It seems most people have covered the basic advice on driving. And as you seem determined to buy a car - after all, it is a free country and you are legally allowed to so - then the question to answer is: What amount do you consider as cheap to run ?

If it is the same as the amount you consider cheap to buy (i.e.£600), I am sorry to say but the running costs are *likely* to be very high for a newly qualified 18 year old student.

1. Have you tried to obtain insurance quotes? I will be pleasantly surprised if these are below £1000 per year.
2. Fixed costs such as Road Tax, MOT - budget £150 per year.
3. Then add variables: petrol/diesel, servicing, unextpected items such as tyres/exhausts, etc.
4. And in Edinburgh, you will be in an anti-car city (much worse than London). You will be in traffic jams forever while buses sail past, you will pay extortionate parking fees if you can find parking, etc.

Even the kids from private schools with millionaire parents find it isn't worthwhile running a car in Edinburgh.

No doubt you will still buy your car. Good luck.

Girls Cars - OAP

This thread shows up the Backroom at it's best!

Emma...Let us know what you decide.
Girls Cars - PoloGirl
Sorry Emma but £600 will buy you a heap...and I certainly wouldn't let a close friend or relative begin their driving in a car that had only cost that.

You'll need about that much again for insurance at least, and please don't tie yourself to a finance deal at this stage if anyone will give you one as a student.

Sorry if that's not what you want to read... again.

Girls Cars - Mondaywoe
Hi Emma


My first car (while at Uni) was an 18 month old Mini. Of course that was nearly 30 years ago! The old Minis were brilliant first cars - although not the most reliable or rust free - even then.

If you shop around, you might well get something reasonable. My elderly aunt stopped driving a few months ago and sold her Metro. It was a P reg, had 17,000 miles on the clock since she bought it new and she got £1300 for it. The car was immaculate and had been serviced like clockwork. Now even taking into account the fact that low annual mileage cars aren't always the best bet, this car was a beauty and somebody got a real bargain.

In general, though, Metros aren't that wonderful compared with some of the modern competition. How about something like a Skoda Favorit? They are probably dirt cheap now - especially since the Fabia came along. Favorit was the first of the 'good' Skodas - no image but pretty sound.

My Mum has a Clio - very comfy, nice to drive (provided it has power steering) and generally reliable. I service it for her, but dealer servicing could be pricey.

Remember to budget for all your running costs - insurance might be difficult, but shop aound.

Good luck! Do tell us how you get on.

Girls Cars - hillman
It looks as though a car will keep you poor. You would be better served to take note of Pologirl's remarks and keep your cash for essentials.
But, the best advice generally falls on deaf ears, and the human race is constrained to repeat the errors of the previous generation.
If that is so, remember that if you but cheap, that is what you will get. Go for a nondescript car, one which does not attract atention, say a dark Micra. Don't but privately unless you know the seller personally, and trust them. Before you buy try to afford an AA inspection. They don't always get it right, but it is a safeguard. Alternatively, insist on an MOT before you agree the sale, whether it is due or not. Then try to slip a tenner to one of 'the lads' and ask him to be thorough.
Try to afford fully comp insurance. One of my friends was hit by a joy rider, she only had third party fire and theft, which left her with all of the bills.
Girls Cars - king arthur
Privately is how she'll have to buy it, she's not going to find any dealers selling anything worthwhile for £600. And I couldn't possibly recommend an auction.
Girls Cars - J Bonington Jagworth
Emma - you must be at Uni by now. Why not see how the first term/semester goes (you probably won't want to head into the Grampians just yet) and see how the transport pans out? Presumably most of your fellow students are in the same boat...
Illegitimi non carborundum!
Girls Cars - Rob the Bus {P}

Welcome to the site and congratulations on passing your test.

I'm rather afraid that I'm going to echo what most of the other posters here have said.

When I started Uni in 1992, I was desperate for my own car so I bought the first one that I saw. This was a 1980 Mini Clubman in vomit-inducing orange. I was really pleased with it as it started first time and drove really well. Unfortunately, as I discovered at a (thankfully deserted) crossroads in the middle of Clacton, it didn't stop too well. The brake pedal sank to the floor and I sailed gracefully across the junction, all manner of rude words issuing forth! The car cost me £300 and the brakes cost me £200. It is *VERY* distressing not being able to buy beer in the student bar as all your money is sat outside in the car park!!!

I know that you will be wanting your independence and not having to rely on friends and public transport if you want to get somewhere, but personally I'd wait until after Uni or at least until you've been there a year or so.

I'd also agree with whoever suggested a brand new car (preferrably with free insurance) as if it does go wrong then at least it should be fixed for nowt.

Good luck with whatever you decide, and I hope that you enjoy Uni.


Girls Cars - AndyTDi130
Hi Emma!

OK, well I think the other guys have given you plenty of pointers on the driving front..

In terms of what car to buy (if you're still considering it) I'd be inclined to point you at somethign like the VW Polo of Vauxhall Nova.
I had a B-reg 1.3 Polo as a first car, and it proved pretty much bomb proof over 30'000 odd miles. The only things to watch for on the older ones are the brakes (not servo'd so feel a bit like wooden blocks compared to modern cars) and pretty dim headlamps (but a decent upgrade at Halfords should see you right).
Plenty of people at college had Novas in various conditions, and they seemed to hold together better than the other small cars around.
I guess most cars, no matter what make they are, start to show their age when they get to the £600 level. I think the best advice is to find someone that knows a bit about cars and take them with you to view/drive the car before you part with any of the folding stuff.

I'm going to put a slight downer on the "joys of motoring" though - it gets pretty hairy out there sometimes, especially on dark, wet, slippery winter nights. Its a sad fact that as a new driver, you're most at risk of having a bump, so without wanting to sound like "father wisdom" look at something that will stand up to it. I would say (and it's entirely my own opinion) that the small French cars represent amazing value on the surface, but an oldish one (Citroen AX/Pug 205) just won't take a slap.

I've got the dubious honour of sharing a flat with PoloGirl, and over the last couple of years (and 3 crashes!!) I've never regretted recomending the VW - it certainly saved our skins when an artic spun us round and finished up T-Boning us a few weeks ago!

Go buy your car - you'll love it. Just drive aware, and go careful.

- Welcome to the road!

Girls Cars - PoloGirl
I've got the dubious honour of sharing a flat with PoloGirl,

Blimey... not only do I have to share my real life space with him.. he pitches up here too!!

Trust me people, it is an honour to share a flat with me - I don't crash Polo with just any old passenger on board :)

Girls Cars - PoloGirl
Oh and.... I picked my own VW!!
Girls Cars - NowWheels
Hi Emma

I know that the boys' lack of encouragement may be a bit frustrating, but I am inclined to agree with them that keeping a car going is an expensive business on a student budget.

I can't offer any ideas about what sort of car would a good buy, but when I was once thinking of buying a car, a friend's boyfriend sat me down and did some sums about the real cost of running a car. It wasn't cheap.

It seems that a similar set of sums for you would work out as at least £1000 a year for a car, maybe £1500 (£1000ish for insurance, plus £100 road tax, plus a few repairs, if only to get through the MoT). Say £100 a month, though that is probably a low estimate, because it assumes no parking tickets or major mechanical trouble or theft/vandalism.

Even if you can get parking near home (not always easy in a major city), you probably can't park near the campus. So the car would be for evenings and weekends.

If you have the car in the evenings, you can't drink when you go out, so it may not be much use then unless you are a much more sober woman than I was in my student days! So it would be for weekends only -- and lots of weekends are going to be spent studying or writing essays against deadlines.

That £100 every month would buy a lot of mobility in other ways. One weekend carhire a month should be manageable for £40 if you shop around, leaving £60 for taxis. At £4 a go, thats 15 taxi rides -- and you'll often be able to share taxi costs with friends, so you might easily get 20 or 25 taxi rides a month.

No worries about parking, none of the hassle of keeping the car safe and roadworthy and avoiding aggressive drivers, and (best of all, for me) the security of knowing that you can get home quickly and safely on those occasions when you've had a bit too much to drink and the company you're in isn't working out so well and you want to get home NOW.

I'd say it's an option worth considering -- I didn't regret it when I chose that use of the cash. But if you decide you really want a car anyway, good luck!

Girls Cars - PhilW
Maybe I'm goiing against the general flow here, but both my children had cars while at Uni. (They are now in their mid twenties so it isn't that long ago). They worked hard during holidays at the local supermarket to finance them and managed to run them though I do remember paying the occasional service bill when they were a bit strapped for cash.
The cost above of £1000 - £1500 per year may be a bit conservative (my son's insurance was horrendous though my daughter's was about half his) but there are plenty of students who spend more than that on fags let alone the pub. It's a question of priorities I think - though both seemed to enjoy a good social life as well as running a car.
It's all very well to say that you shouldn't get a car but I think we all need to look back to being 18 (it's too long ago for me to remember!!) and the immense desire we had then for "our first car". And of course, the advice of not to buy comes from a lot of people who could probably do with no car/a smaller car/fewer cars in the family but who choose to spend money on cars rather than other things! (taxis/buses/trains/walking!!)- and that includes me!
If you really want a car, weigh up the pros and cons and then buy one! As for which car - I don't know. Both my kids wanted, and bought Renault 5s and despite their reputation they proved very reliable and cheap to run but they are too long in the tooth to consider now. They have since both bought Clios and apart from one punctured radiator (stone thrown up on motorway) they have also proved very reliable.
If you really want a car you will find the means to run it and I am sure that the right Micra/Clio/Polo/Saxo/Punto etc is out there! Enjoy your first car but drive carefully!
Girls Cars - emma_18
Hi folks,

Thanks for all the brilliant advice.

Going to wait a while before getting a car. Jost got myself a job in a nightclub up here. Pays really well...

Thought about what you've all said and think I'll go for a Polo.
Possibly spend around £1500 on one.....

TTFN, Emma.
Girls Cars - Ben {P}
Job in a nightclub that pays well! Where do you work?
Girls Cars - PoloGirl
Maybe it's a *special* kind of nightclub.... one of the lapdancing clubs in Birmingham is currently employing almost entirely university students and pays very well. Fair play to you Emma if that's it... and a fantastic decision on the car, but then I would say that! :)

Girls Cars - eMBe {P}
Emma - perfect sensible decision. I am pleasntly surprised because I wrongly imagined that nothing would persuade you to delay buying. It is good to know that my pension will one day be funded by future graduates such as you (and PoloGirl).

Apparently, ou are the youngest in the backroom. I hope you will not abandon it now that you have decided to postpone buying. Remember there is the "I have a Question" thread for any non-motoring questions. Enjoy your time in Edinburgh.

Value my car