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What do you recommend as a first car for new driver?

I'm thinking of buying my first car but I don't know much about cars so I don't really know what I should be shopping for. I'm a 20-year-old student and I have about €1,000 to spend. I'm a learner driver so I'd like something small, easy to drive and cheap to run. I found a nice second hand Ford Ka and wondered whether this would be suitable for me?

Susan Murphy (Blarney, Co. Cork)

May 2010 Filed under: learner

Expert answer

When you are starting off you need something that is as reliable as possible and won't cost you too much to tax, run or repair. Usually, the advice would be to make it Japanese because when you are spending a small amount of money you want the most reliable car possible and the Japanese car manufacturers have been making cheap, small runabouts better than anyone else for decades. Something like a Toyota Starlet or Nissan Micra won't be glamorous, but will usually start first time and they are pretty easy to get parts for.

I can understand why you would want the Ka, as it looks funky and its styling has aged really well. If you are going to look at a Ka, there are a few things we would urge you to pay attention to. Firstly, check if this car has power steering because early models didn't have it as standard and one without power steering could be a headache (or rather arm-ache) to park. Rust can also be a problem too so check for this on the door sills and rear wings and on the tailgate. Check the suspension is ok too as this is a costly enough repair to put right. 

Obviously as you are spending quite a small amount of money you can't expect it to be perfect but check these things and that the engine is running reasonably smoothly and this should be quite a nice little car. 



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