Two weeks ago, I bought my first car—a 2000 Honda Civic with 153,000 miles on it. Here are a few things I learned during and immediately after that process.
  1. You can't buy a decent used car for less than $2,000—assuming a roof is a necessity.
    I figured I could get away with spending my graduation money and a bit of my savings to buy some old car that didn't look like much but that ran fine. Nope. If you see a car advertised on Craigslist for less than $2,000, there's a good chance it's missing the engine, transmission or driver's-side door. That or it has upwards of 250,000 miles on it. This may seem obvious to some, but for someone who had never so much as thought about buying a used car before, it was eye opening.
  2. Craigslist scammers <<< Craigslist killers
    Whether the salesperson is a dealer or a private party, Craigslist users will lie to you about every aspect of the car they're trying to sell you. That car has 170,000 miles on it? Try 190,000. Excellent condition? The rear fender is missing. "Runs great?" "...except it's missing the transmission." The dishonesty never stops. You'll have better luck with dealers or small used-car lots.
  3. I'd rather saw off my own leg than research car insurance plans again.
    Allstate. Progressive. Geico. State Farm. Esurance. The insurance market is saturated, and there is no obvious answer. How much can you afford to pay a month? How much coverage do you actually need? What's the difference between property damage and collision damage? How likely am I to get caught if I just don't buy insurance? That last question definitely ran through my head a few times.
  4. Once you've bought your car, you will baby it for exactly 3 days before forgetting you spent your entire savings account on it.
    It'd probably take me 18 months of incredible thriftiness to save up enough money to replace this car, but that won't stop me from driving it like General Lee in "Dukes of Hazzard."
  5. Gas is expensive!
    Just kidding. Gas is cheap as shit right now. I filled up for $1.49 a gallon last week ($17 and change to go from E to full). What is this, 2003?