First car purchase – young drivers should consider that


What a moment! You finally have your driver’s license in hand and can start looking for your first car. Many young people long for this moment for a long time, but then suddenly many questions come up. What do I have to look out for when buying my first car? How do I know which model is right for me? And what about the insurance? We have summarized the most important information for young drivers so that you can really do everything right with your first car and concentrate only on having fun driving.

Just passed the driving test, and you’re ready to go to the car dealer! Or is it better to look for a car from a private seller? We already have the first of numerous questions that young drivers face when deciding to have their own car. Only in rare cases is it supposed to be a new car, but even here, there are a few things to consider. The first set of wheels should not be too strong so that even an inexperienced driver can easily maintain control, offer as much safety as possible and graciously forgive one or the other driving mistake. That limits the selection of models – namely to those solid cars that you often see with novice drivers.

Criteria for your first car

The requirements for a car can be very different. Some young drivers already have to commute to work every day and therefore cover many kilometres on the motorway. Others want to have their own car as a matter of principle and only get in when necessary. Anyone who really depends on their vehicle daily should opt for a particularly reliable model. The two classics from VW, namely the Golf and the Polo, are trendy. They are available in many equipment variants, with different engines and, above all, in every price range on the used car market. The Toyota Yaris and the Skoda Fabia are also very popular. But before you decide on a model, you should know the answers to the following questions:

  • How big is my budget?

Please do not only think about the purchase price but also about any repairs that may be due soon after buying a used car. You should also include the monthly costs for fuel, insurance and parking in your calculation.

  • How much space do I really need?

If you take three people with you every day, have a large dog or always have a lot of luggage with you for work, you will opt for a larger car. If you mostly travel alone, a smaller model will do the same.

  • Highway or city?

Where are you mainly travelling? With a small car, it can quickly get uncomfortable on long journeys, but it is much easier to find a parking space in the city centre. Think about what you need for your everyday life so that you can enjoy your car for as long as possible.

  • Safety equipment

Of course, safety also plays an important role for experienced drivers. Still, young drivers, in particular, should pay attention to airbags and a good ranking of the respective model in one of the common safety tests when choosing their first car.

  • Extras

Back problems, or do you sweat easily? Then you will probably attach great importance to comfortable seats or good automatic climate control when looking for the right vehicle. In the euphoria of having passed the driving test, you may want the full package right away but remember: the more extras a car has, the more susceptible it is to damage and thus to necessary repairs. Think about what is really indispensable for you.

Private seller, or would you prefer to go to a car dealer?

For most new drivers, only a used car is an option due to the rather limited budget. Whether from the dealer or preferably from a private seller depends on how well you are familiar with cars and whether the car should have a warranty. These are, of course, only available from dealers and still give you a certain degree of security. It is best to take a second person with you to view the vehicle. Before you finally decide on a model, you should definitely test drive it. Look for strange noises, smells, or other abnormalities.

Once the choice has finally been made, you must first register your new car after concluding the sales contract. We have summarized for you which documents you need for this in another article.

Car insurance for young drivers

It is easy to lose track of all the car insurance providers. And then there is liability insurance, a motor-related insurance tax and the thing with fully or partially comprehensive insurance. Which of these insurances are for what, and are they all essential? We’ll give you a quick overview so that you really know your way around:

  • Motor vehicle liability insurance

Liability insurance must be taken out for every car. Otherwise, you will not receive registration and, therefore, no license plates. It is the only insurance that is mandatory! Liability insurance covers damage to vehicles, objects and people. In many cases, the insurance companies also offer breakdown assistance and a towing service if your car breaks down. The premiums for liability insurance are classified in so-called bonus-malus levels. As a novice driver, you start at level 9 and decrease by one premium level with each accident-free year. Any damage catapults you three levels higher. So always drive carefully! Special conditions also apply to young drivers up to around 25 years of age.

Info: If you take over the car from a parent or grandparent, you can also take over their insurance and insurance level. However, only if no other car has been registered for the other person from this point on. It is best to ask your insurance company!

  • Comprehensive insurance

A distinction is made between partial and fully comprehensive insurance. The former pays for damage caused, for example, by hail, fire, flooding or theft, as well as broken windows. The exact scope of benefits differs slightly from insurance to insurance. The fully comprehensive insurance also pays for vandalism and parking damage. Small glasses such as indicators and even a colour match for the paint can be included. In addition, the insurance covers the repair costs of your car even in the event of an accident that you have caused.

  • Car accident insurance

This insurance is a supplement to liability and comprehensive insurance and applies to all passengers in your car. This provides you and your passengers with the best possible protection against the financial consequences of an accident-related injury. In most cases, this applies regardless of who caused the accident.

  • Motor vehicle legal protection insurance

We don’t really want to argue, but sometimes there are situations in road traffic ambiguous if there is a legal dispute with another road user, motor vehicle legal protection insurance can definitely pay off.


Yes, and what is the engine-related insurance tax? You don’t really pay this to your insurance company, but the state and the amount depending on the performance and, if your car is first registered after October 1, 2020, it also depends on the CO2 emissions of your car.

Car Owner’s Obligations

In addition to valid insurance, as a car owner, you have other obligations that you have to meet. Once a year in Austria, the “badge” is due, i.e. the inspection of the vehicle according to Paragraph 57a. The appraiser checks whether your vehicle poses a threat to the environment. If he discovers serious defects, you have to have them repaired and only get a new sticker for your car when everything is in order again. If there is imminent danger, you are no longer allowed to move your vehicle, and the license plate can even be removed. 

Important:  In Austria, the badge is valid for up to four months after the due date. So you can still be on the road with a recently expired report. However, other rules apply abroad! Before you drive across the border, you should inquire about the regulations of the respective country and, if necessary, arrange a new appraisal appointment before the sticker expires.

Of course, you should also check your vehicle regularly to ensure that it is roadworthy. Is it making strange noises or jerking when starting? Is the tire pressure correct? The cleanliness of the windows is also an important point to take care of. 

Also, make sure that you always have the necessary equipment on board. This includes:

● Safety vest for breakdowns on the motorway

● Bandages

● Breakdown triangle

In winter, it is advisable always to have an ice scraper and a small broom in the car so that you can free the windows from ice and snow. If you’re going into the mountains, don’t forget to bring the right snow chains with you.

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Peter High
I've written for the Wall Street Journal, CIO Magazine, CIO Insight, Information Week and several other periodicals. I am also the author of Implementing World Class IT Strategy: How IT Can Drive Organizational Innovation.

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