Being a student rarely rhymes with wealth. If it did, you'd see a lot of young people going through their university years at the wheel of shiny, brand-new cars and having a blast.

The reality is quite different. In fact, when you're a student, you go with what you've got. So when it’s time to take the decision to purchase a used vehicle, it's important to make the right choice. Here are three practical tips that could help you.

Choosing the model

On the pre-owned market, there are certain models with a more enviable reputation than others, such as the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, for example. However, beyond that, it's the general condition of the vehicle that will determine whether or not you'll make a good purchase. When you go to take a look at it, check its general condition, whether it's the overall body, the cleanliness inside and the state of the vehicle (broken buttons, loose panels, etc.).

If you are dealing with a private individual, maintenance history is an interesting added value. At a dealership, you can ask for the Carfax report in order to know the pedigree of the model you like. It is better to be more than less careful.

Mechanical inspection

If you purchase a model from an individual, it is imperative to have it inspected to ensure that it is in good condition. A certified mechanic will be able to tell you whether or not you are making a good purchase.

By trusting a dealer, you benefit from the expertise and probably from a vehicle that has undergone a mechanical update before being offered to you. Also, warranties are often offered to give you additional peace of mind.

Respect your budget

Shopping for a car is a bit like walking into a candy store with your pockets full of money. It feels like you can get whatever you want and there will be no consequences.

With a car, it's easy to be tempted by a model with more equipment, a sportier car or a more spacious SUV. The important thing is to set your budget before taking action. If you have a maximum of $300 a month to spend on a vehicle, forget about the models that will cost you $300 a month. Why? Because you'll need to consider insurance, maintenance, gas and other things. By going about it sensibly, you'll stay within your budget and avoid the risk of extra debt. This will allow you to pay for the vehicle of your dreams once you finish your studies.

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