Best Car-Buying Advice for College Students on a Budget


College students are notorious for being broke. When big expenses come up, such as a car purchase or vehicle maintenance, it can feel impossible to pay them off on a college budget. 

The good news is that there are plenty of tips and tricks to help reduce the cost of a car in order for it to be affordable to a student. Here are some of the best pieces of advice for college students buying a vehicle on a budget. 

Buy Used

Used cars tend to be $17,000 cheaper on average than when they were bought new. That’s a big price difference when considering that college students also have to include their tuition, housing, and food in their budget. 

Because of how much the value of a new vehicle depreciates after usage, it’s unreasonable for a student on a college budget to look for something new. Car values depreciate by 20-30% in the first year alone, so it’s a lot more practical to find a high-quality car that’s used. 

Efficiency Ratings

Especially if you’re a commuting student or have a job that requires you to drive frequently, efficiency ratings are important to consider in your next car. Gas is a recurring expense that fluctuates in price, so the more efficient your car is, the less financial impact you will feel from these price fluctuations for fuel. 

Your potential car’s EPA mileage rating will also influence its impact on the environment. The higher the rating, the more efficient the vehicle is. You can compare the fuel efficiency of different cars with this link.

Low Maintenance

More pricey cars tend to attract higher costs to repair and maintain them. Be on the lookout for makes and models that don’t contain parts that would be expensive to replace or repair. The lower your maintenance costs, the best bang you’ll have for your buck.

Toyotas, Hondas, and Mazdas are some of the top-rated cars that require a low amount of maintenance to keep them up and running. 

Low Mileage

Cars have different amounts of maintenance that need to be done at mileage checkpoints. You can check out this comprehensive list of maintenance needed by mileage to see what you would be able to afford to fix.

Cars with low mileage will tend to have longer sustainability before needing to be taken in for repairs. If you find a vehicle that hasn’t been driven very much, you will have a longer amount of time to save up for the bigger maintenance bills that will need to eventually be paid.