Motoring News

An expert’s tips on buying junior’s first car

DES FENNER is the general manager of Datsun South Africa – a vehicle brand well-loved in this country and recently returned as the budget arm of Nissan SA – and has some tips for parents agonising over buying a car for their first-born.

IS YOUR YOUNGSTER READY FOR THE ROAD? Tips for buying that all-important first car. Image: Datsun SA
IS YOUR YOUNGSTER READY FOR THE ROAD? Tips for buying that all-important first car. Image: Datsun SA

He’d obviously like you to take a close look at his products (and, in fact, that might not be a bad idea!) but his advice still holds true no matter which brand of car – new or used – on which you might be keen.

You’re about to make a big decision, spend a few minutes ingesting his comments…


Finding a car that meets the criteria of youngster and parent can mean emotional and prolonged negotiation; the decision a delicate balance of form, function and affordability – particularly the last. Yet, Fenner says, ‘used’ need not be either necessary or best. Here’s why…

“The running and maintenance cost of an older car can easily outweigh the cost of buying a new economy car,” he explained, “and technology has improved vastly over recent years, especially on fuel consumption. The new Datsun GO, for example, has a 1.2-litre engine and is capable of 6.2 litres/100km.”

Rarin’ to go! New Datsun revealed in SA
Tested: Datsun’s GO on the move

Then there are higher insurance costs for young and inexperienced drivers…

Fenner again: “The insurance premiums on a smaller-engined car will be much lower than those of a car with a bigger engine. Because under-25’s fall into a ‘high-risk’ category and are more likely to make expensive claims on their insurance than any other age group, the wiser choice is to remove the risk associated with driving a more powerful car.

Vehicle insurance costs are a little like school: you have to learn before you graduate.


Some parents, in an attempt to keep insurance premiums low, say they will be the regular drivers. This may jeopardise your claim should junior have a shunt. Any damage claim requires the driver to be identified – don’t lie! The insurer will most likely check and mis-identifying the driver will result in the claim being totally invalidated and could lead to a prosecution for attempted fraud.

Datsun Go image gallery

You will also want to be secure in the knowledge that your children are not going to break down – another benefit of a new car with a manufacturer’s warranty. Here’s why…

“A properly maintained new car will drive trouble-free for many years,” Fenner explaied. “The problem with a used vehicle is that you don’t know how they have been used and (unless it has a full service history) driven or if they were properly maintained so there is a bigger risk of breakdown.”


When the trauma of choosing and buying is over, there’s one more parental step you can take: have a reputable company install a vehicle tracking device. It will not only reduce your insurance premiums and pinpoint the car’s location but also record speeding, hard braking and harsch acceleration.

Tell your young driver that he or she is being monitored because you care for their safety; that they are not so much being monitored as being looked after. If they are smart enough to pass their driving test they will be wise enough to understand and drive safely.

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