Car Buying Tips For University Students (And Their Parents)

Shiju Thomas is the general manager for online car sourcing website Autogenie. Here are a few of his buying tips for university students and their parents looking to purchase an affordable, stylish and fuel-efficient vehicle. (In short — don’t skimp on safety features and go for something small.)

Car key picture from Shutterstock

Every year, thousands of parents are faced with the challenge of sending their children off to university. You may be frantically buying books, shopping for learning supplies and arranging accommodation, but have you spared a thought for how to get your kids to uni in the safest way?

In some circumstances you may find that the best option is to use public transport or your own two legs. However, for many young Australians, starting university is a life milestone that signals their coming of age. What this generally means is that they want a car.

Having access to your own vehicle gives you freedom. Students use their cars for driving to Saturday sport, moving furniture into their student accommodation and heading out to dinner on Tuesday nights. They are also great for parents, making it easier for their kids to travel home during the holidays.

So, if you’re a parent thinking about buying a car for your child or you are a student thinking of buying one yourself, here are a few tips to help you out.


Safety is not only important to keep students safe and give their parents peace of mind: Having a car with a higher rating can also help reduce your insurance premiums. Choosing a car with a significant amount of high-tech safety features ensures you are safer on the road, which in turn makes you less of a risk for your car insurance provider.

Although buying an older, second hand car may not initially cost you as much, insurance providers will charge larger premiums for cars without a good service history, or cars that don’t have many safety features.

Since 2005, the Volkswagen Golf has been awarded a five star ANCAP safety rating. With front, side, head and knee airbags, this car is a safe bet for any young university student, and will help keep the insurance premiums down.

Vehicle size

It is almost guaranteed there will be more drivers than parking spaces on your university campus so vehicle size is important. Small cars are also financially practical for young students as they aren’t as greedy at the petrol pump.

There are a number of small cars that are now packing the same safety standards as their larger counterparts and come with the added benefit of being far cheaper.

For a truly compact and parking-space-friendly car, consider a Fiat 500, which is a small and easy to drive vehicle perfect for cramped parking spots and busy campus roads. This car has great fuel efficiency and is surprisingly spacious on the inside.


With all the additional study-related expenses, you’re probably hoping for a bargain price on your car. It is important to set realistic expectations for your kids, so get them to outline the top five things they want in a car. Fortunately, there are a wide range of affordable ‘cool looking cars’ that also are safe and easy to drive as well as being functional.

The Mazda3 is an affordable car which is both functional and fuel efficient. It comes in a sedan or hatchback model, with a variety of safety and driver assist features.

Once you have chosen your desired make and model, be sure to hunt around and find the best deal possible. Many dealerships are willing to compete with one another for your business, or add in extras for the same price.

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