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There’s something magical about that first car. It brings with it a new level of freedom. The freedom to go where you want, when you want.

And if you choose wisely, the process of purchasing your first car can also be rewarding. But it’s a big industry with a lot of history, and if you want to come out with the best deal on the car that’s going to make you the happiest behind the wheel, you’ve got to do some homework.

Let’s go through some of the most frequently asked questions about the difficult art of buying your first car.

How do I go about buying my first car?

First of all, it is important to evaluate your needs as well as your means. Sure, the Civic Type R looks amazing and would impress your friends, but if you live outside the city and need to move a pair of large dogs every day, a 300-horsepower sports car might not be ideal…

After you know what you need, you can either shop around through the huge list of available used and new cars on the market, or go to a dealership and speak with a product expert. They can help you narrow down your best options.

Can I lease my first car?

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t lease your first car, so long as your credit is good enough and you can afford the payments. One of the main advantages of leasing is the ability to swap for something else after a few years.

Is it better to buy new or pre-owned?

Old-timers like me will tell you that your first car should be as old and easy to work on as possible; the theory here is that having an old vehicle that needs mechanical attention will teach you the basics of automotive maintenance. However, in this day and age, nobody works on their own car anymore. Furthermore, modern vehicles offered by brands like Honda have become so reliable that the risk of breaking down has dropped tremendously.

In the end, it all boils down to your means: if you want that shiny new Fit and can afford it, go for it!

 

Is it better to lease or finance? 

Depending on your individual needs, means and situation, both options could work. However, it is important to note that most first-time car buyers are young, so their credit rating might not be good enough to get behind the wheel of a brand-new Pilot. If you want to prove to creditors that you are stable, leasing a smaller vehicle with low monthly payments might be the way to go. A good first step would be to speak with a finance specialist at your local dealership to discuss each option.

What to check when buying your first car?

If you buy your first car used, you should always have it inspected by a mechanic. Even if you know your way around an engine, it’s a good idea to have a professional go through the vehicle’s many systems to ensure that it is in good shape and isn’t hiding anything… Especially rust, an ever-present threat to used Canadian cars. At Honda, all of our pre-owned vehicles undergo a comprehensive 100-point review to ensure they’re ready for the road.

Why is my first car insurance so expensive? 

Because you are young, brash and lack experience… at least according to the insurance company. If you look at statistics, young drivers are the most likely to be involved in accidents and are also more likely to get DUIs or be arrested for reckless driving. It will get better once you get older and your driver’s license shows you’ve been on the road safely for a few years. So drive with care.

Should my first car be a manual or automatic?

Manual. Next Question! OK, so this is my opinion, but hear me out: like everything else in life, driving manual is a skill. It isn’t some science that only racing drivers can master. If you get your first car with a manual transmission, shifting gears will become second nature in about a week. After that, you will know how to drive stick for the rest of your life.

That said, an automatic transmission is simple to use and far more common today, so you’ll probably end up in one regardless.

What should my first car be? 

There are many options, but you generally want to pick something reliable, not too expensive at the pump and easy to drive. Something like a Civic, a Fit or even an Accord would work perfectly! If you want more room, consider an older CR-V… these came with a manual gearbox, wink wink!

 

 

How much should my first car cost?

Not more than you can afford, that’s for sure! If you want to keep costs down, a used car that you can pay cash for up front is ideal. Not only would you risk considerably less if it became damaged or destroyed it in an accident, but you can insure the car for a lot less when you outright own it. Even when you bring it to a dealer for service once in a while, it will end up being cheaper to run than a brand-new car in the long run.

Lots of people had Hondas as their first car. Why?

If you look back at everything I just wrote, you’ll see a pattern for the “perfect first car” emerging. It needs to be cheap to run, fuel efficient, manual, reliable, easy to work on (or cheap to have repaired), but you still want it to be fun to drive.

Sounds like I’m describing any Honda, right? Cars like the 1990’s-era Civic hatchback, the sixth-gen Accord or the Fit? That’s EXACTLY why people have been choosing Honda’s as their first car… and often end up being fans of the brand for life.