Perusing to Cruise; Breaking down the key steps

Jillian Preston, Staff writer

High school students dream of pulling up to school in new wheels blaring their favorite music, and stepping out with their friends. However, it’s important to understand the potholes of car buying or teens like you might have to slam on the breaks before you can even put the key in the ignition, and let’s hope the breaks even work. 


Determine the Budget:

Regardless of whether you have been saving every penny for the last two years or if you think your current job will allow you to finance a monthly car payment, you need to set a budget early in the shopping process. 

Used or even older cars tend to get bad reputations, but they can be reliable and safe. You just have to know where to look and what you are looking for. There are cars under $10,000 that are available and have a good safety rating, as well as decent miles. There are tons of local listings for used cars online. Websites like, Facebook’s marketplace, CarFaxs, TrueCar, and CarGurus are great places to look for cars new or used in your area. 

“I didn’t have any help from my parents, I had to do it all on my own,” said Austin Shores, “I found the car from a listing on Facebook’s marketplace. I had recently gotten in an accident and paid for the car in full from the money I had gotten back.”


Don’t go It Alone:

When you go to look at a car, bring an adult with you that knows about cars and has experience. When buying a car, a trusted adult or parent is going to be a life saver. Their experience could rescue you from a really bad purchase and save you a lot of money. 

“When I bought my car, a 2006 Buick Lacrosse, my parents paid for half and I paid the rest,” said Samantha Zaphris, “We purchased the car from my grandmother. The car was still in good condition and my dad helped me out a lot. I had no idea what to look for or even how to pop the hood. Even just buying the car from my grandmother was a complicated process.” 


Features and Style:

“Everyone should do their homework when they are thinking of buying a car. What most teens don’t think about is how their personal life can impact what kind of car would work best for them,” said Adam Caiazza a car salesman at Auto Express Kia, “If you travel a lot, make sure to consider the amount of miles the car has, and maybe opt for an eco drive mode to save you gas. If you plan on driving people around make sure you have a car with enough seats. Those are the first questions I ask teens to help them get an idea of what kind of car would work for them.”


When buying a car, there are going to be important questions you are going to have to ask. You are going to need to know, the miles, safety features, when the last inspection was, if it has four wheel drive or two wheel drive, and if it’s two wheel drive is it front wheel or rear wheel drive. In Erie, it is almost necessary to have either four wheel drive or front wheel drive. They function much better in harsh weather conditions. Also, front wheel drive is always the cheapest option. 


Buyer Beware

Knowing if the car you’re buying is up to standards can be hard sometimes. A trick that could quickly give you that answer is by openly talking about taking the car to a mechanic with the dealer before purchasing it. Get the car professionally checked out before making a big commitment. This can help you ensure that you are getting a quality car. If the car isn’t in the best condition this will raise flags with the dealer. They might try to convince you not to get it checked out, or say that it has just been inspected so there is no need. This may show that the car is not in sound condition.


Another is if the car was stored in a garage. If they had stored it in a garage, it will have considerably less rust than a car that has been left out to endure the weather. Rust on cars is like an illness is to the living. Rust can spread and can destroy your car from the inside out, potentially costing you thousands of dollars. Making sure the car has little to no rust is another important thing to check off on your list. 


Cars are the first milestone in the path to adulthood for many teenagers. It opens an entirely new realm of possibilities. Having a safe car to travel down that road to adulthood is going to be important. Buying cars is a difficult task, but if you ask the right questions and bring the right people, you could have your affordable dream car in no time.