Should I buy a car for my university student?

5 minute read Published on Oct 27, 2021 by BrokerLink Communications

Should I buy a car for my university student?

Now that your child has graduated from high school, they’re likely pretty eager to start the next chapter of their lives. If their next move is university, there’s a lot to consider.

As parents, you worry about them leaving, especially if the university of choice is far away. Where will they live? What will they eat? How will they get to school?

If your child is living off campus, you may wonder if you should buy them a car so they can easily commute to school and around town. There are many scenarios in which having a personal vehicle is a great convenience, but it’s also an extra expense and responsibility to take on. Here are some things to consider beforehand:

Buying a car for your university student

If living at home isn’t an option for your young adult, they may need transportation to get to and from school. Many universities are near public transportation, however, the benefits of having a car appeals to students for many reasons.

Saves time

While transit may be an option, it may take considerably longer to get from one destination to another. A vehicle could save on time commuting back and forth which could then be dedicated to something more useful like studying, running errands or going to work. It could also cut down on the anxiety and wasted time waiting for transit which can be unreliable in some places.

Prevents exhaustion

Similar to the point above, driving eliminates the need to wait on bus schedules or from jumping bus to bus. With the added pressure of projects and working for extra pocket change, your child could easily feel burned out. A car quickly becomes appealing and beneficial when you’re constantly running around trying to keep up with the new responsibilities of life.


University is a time of new experiences and making new friends. Leaving an uncomfortable situation or calling an early night is easier when you have your own car.

Convenience during emergencies and disasters

Having a reliable car can really help in the event of a natural disaster or some kind of emergency back at home. Your child would be able to get home on their own terms, without having to rely on transportation schedules.

Things to consider when buying a car for your child

If you’ve decided that a car would be better for your student, you’ll want to think about what vehicle type is best suited to their situation. Here are some key things to keep in mind:

Choosing the right car

You want to look for something that is reliable, fuel efficient and has a good capacity. Do you live in an area where snowfalls are expected every winter? This may impact the type of vehicle you buy as AWD (all-wheel drive) can help get over those hurdles when your child comes home from university during the holidays.

Should you buy a new car or a used car?

The choice between buying a new vs. used car can be tough to make. There are pros and cons to both sides and it’s not a decision to take lightly. Here are some things to think about:

  Advantages Disadvantages
New Car
  • Manufacturer warranty
  • Newer technology and safety features
  • Financing flexibility, including leasing
  • More expensive to buy
  • Depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot
Used Car
  • Less expensive to buy
  • More data and reviews available
  • May cost more to maintain
  • Older technology and fewer safety features

Financing the car

Are you buying or leasing? If buying, are you looking at purchasing used or new? Answering these questions will help determine how the car will be paid for as financial packages from banks and dealerships will vary accordingly.

Purchasing car insurance

Are you putting your child under your policy or will they be getting their own? Rates will differ depending on what you choose to do.

We asked BrokerLink’s Dave B. to share his personal experience buying a car for his university student. Here’s what he said:

“Buying a car for my university student was scary and expensive. They are away from home for the first time. Will they be as responsible as they are at home? Setting the ground rules was first and foremost:

  1. Your friends do not drive the car (being in insurance I know that any accident that a friend has – however minor it may be – counts against my insurance)
  2. The car is to get to and from school. It should be parked most of the time you are at school.

I don’t need to mention the worries about drinking and driving.

From a cost perspective, since we are a household of four drivers and three cars, my son became a primary driver when we bought the third car. That is not an inexpensive venture for an 18-year-old boy. Repairs and maintenance on an older car can be expensive and far too frequent as well.

On a positive note, my son has proven to be quite trustworthy with this new responsibility. He has also learned the value of a dollar – gas is not cheap.

One thing he has learned is while the car is convenient, gas, parking, repairs and insurance costs may outweigh the convenience factor. Public transportation and carpooling become good options very quickly.”

Add an additional layer of protection for your university student

Car insurance for your young adult is important and mandatory. Whether they are being added as an additional driver on your policy or getting their own policy, insurance will help protect them when something unexpected happens. It will also give you some peace of mind while your child is away.

At BrokerLink, we offer insurance for a wide array of products like home and business too. If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call today!

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FAQs about buying a car for your university student

Do I need to consider the kilometers on a car if I’m buying second-hand?

Absolutely! This is one of the most important things to take into consideration because it can affect how long you can safely operate the vehicle without running into frequent maintenance problems.

Should I avoid curbsiders?

What’s a curbsider? It is an illegal, unlicensed vehicle dealer and yes, you should always avoid them. Not only is this type of selling unethical, but you could be lied to about the vehicle you’re considering. Curbsiders often pose as private sellers, but there have been some that work for smaller shops and businesses. By law, there are certain things sellers must tell you about a vehicle, so do your due diligence and homework if you’re interested in a car. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

What is a VIN?

VIN is an acronym for Vehicle Identification Number. Every vehicle has one and it tells you the exact history of your vehicle like where it was made, the manufacturer, and it’s used by departments of transportation across Canada and the United States to keep track of every vehicle on the road.

Accidents, recalls and various other activities are all assigned to the VIN so you may use a VIN to get a vehicle's history report via dedicated websites, such as Carfax. There is a minor cost for a detailed vehicle history report but can be worth the investment. The report may even tell you the number of owners that car has had, how long it has been registered and it may even provide the mileage at the time of the last transaction.