First Car hoping for insight

So I’m 17 and buying my first car in August, I’m debating on a truck or a car. I know personally I like to go fast, but I’m in a smallish town where the only thing to do is explore desert. I was hoping to get some tips and pointed in the right direction of buying a vehicle, what to watch for when buying, car or truck? Don’t have anyone to help out with these questions. Thank you!

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If you are a young man ages 16-25, the cost to insure anything more sporty than a Toyota Corolla will make your nose bleed. The cost to insure a truck will likely make your nose and ears bleed. Before buying anything, I’d ask my insurance agent the cost to insure the specific model you are considering, for the policy limits you are considering. The cost can vary widely from one model to another.


OK, first off there are a bunch of old guys and gals here so we WILL sound like your father or mother…

That attitude will lose you your license, or your life in short order. Driving fast on public roads is stupid and dangerous. Don’t.

If you like to go fast, find your local Sports Car Club of America chapter. Ask if they have a Solo II or “autocross” group. They will teach you how to race for time on parking lots to feed your need for speed. You race against cars with similar performance. You may have to drive a bit on a Sunday morning to the parking lot or airfield they run events on but it is great fun, and safer for everyone than public roads.

For that a truck is not so good. Cars are better. And it doesn’t matter WHAT car, there are classes for slow ones and fast ones. Corollas, Civics, Mazda 3’s are all good choices.

If you like to go off-roading (always with at least one other truck… buddy up for safety) a 4WD truck is the way to go. Toyota Tacoma is good, Older Jeeps - the simpler the Jeep, the better, later ones have issues, lots of issues. Older GM SUV’s and trucks with 4WD are also pretty reliable and cheap.


You don’t have anyone ? Most places will not sell insurance to 17 year old without being on an adult family member insurance policy . Same thing for financing . very seldom someone under 18 can get a vehicle loan .
And since you have until August use the time to read online articles on how to buy a used vehicle . Search online vehicle sales to get an idea of what you can actually afford and the prices of things you might like.
Also you will not want anything that might be a problem getting parts for or repair where you live .

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Not everyone has parents who know about cars. I did not have parents who knew anything about shopping for used cars because they always bought new. Had to learn the hard way.

OP, @Mustangman has some great advice for going fast safely, and his method will also teach you how to go faster.

If I were in your shoes I’d be looking for a Mazda3, maybe a Civic Si, or a Hyundai Veloster (which comes in turbo flavor if you’re willing to spend the extra insurance premium)… Something along those lines.

You don’t want to get too fast of a car because like others have said, the insurance company will drain your wallet at warp speed. You also don’t want to get too fast of a car because you’re 17, you most likely suck at driving like 99% of all other 17 year olds (which is fine, if driving didn’t require skill development everyone could be a Formula 1 driver), and it’s a lot easier to recover from mistakes in a 150hp car than in a 500hp car.

I would avoid getting a truck. If you get a truck then everyone in your class will want you to help them move after graduation. Owning a pickup means the whole neighborhood thinks they now have a timeshare in a pickup. :wink: You’ll also spend more in insurance and most likely gas.

If you do go the truck route, I would avoid any serious offroading for now unless you somehow have a lot more disposable income than most high school students. It’s a really good way to tear up your vehicle, and that gets expensive really fast.


How much do you want to spend? Apparently you live in the Western US, since it is a desert. Mountain West or lowland West?

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Lowland west a town called Winslow Arizona. I wanna spend anywhere from a grand to 4500.

Are you… Standin’ on the corner?

Sorry, couldn’t resist.


Should’ve expected that lmao


$4500 isn’t going to get you much. I’d suggest a Mazda 3 (high “fun” factor) or Civic coupe (sporty) and set aside a reserve for repairs. It comes down to want vs need. You want something fast and fun and cool. You need something safe and reliable that you can afford to operate. Everything else follows from there.


Do you need a vehicle to do things besides transportation? Sedan ok? Truck? Haul stuff? Go to school? What are plans for next year?

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Mazda 3 would be worth checking out, reliable while being fun to drive, you’d want the Mazdaspeed version to go faster but it’s out of your budget. You should find someone to look at the car.with you but as long as it checks out they’re good car’s.

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You can explore the desert on a motorcycle. Bikes are less expensive than cars and you could ride all year in Winslow. If you are interested, check into an off-road bike that can be licensed for the street.

BTW, Take it Easy was the first thing I though of too. Find that girl with the flat bed Ford. Maybe you can cut a deal with her. :wink:


I’m in high school and plan on doing some firefighter training next year. Don’t neccesarily plan on hauling stuff but I also don’t wanna be that guy asking for someone with a truck. I don’t have a family to rely on for stuff and don’t like asking for help.

Back to the age problem . I know of no place in the US where a 17 year old can get vehicle insurance by their self. Almost always they need a cosigner and since the 17 year old will be on their main policy with the high rates not many non family members will do that. so check that out because you don’t want to be caught driving without insurance.

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I have some friends parents that I can get to add me to their plan.

Then all the more reason you don’t need a fast vehicle or driving in a manner that will get you tickets because it will also raise their premiums.

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You guys are right. I was just being honest about my driving. Thanks for the info!

Without reading what everyone else said, really the best thing you can do if you find a car you are interested in is have it checked out by a trusted mechanic. That saved me from buying a nice little Olds F85 when I was about your age. The mechanic (also an Episcopal deacon so he was trust worthy) found a whole list of things wrong with it so I just kept my VW. Really couldn’t afford it anyway.

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Thank you for that information I planned on just checking for rust and such. I figured it impossible to get a mechanic because I assumed to get the car I want I would need to travel across the state.