Three smaller cars stand out for reliability and safety
Portia lives and studies in Warkworth but travels the busy State Highway One at least two to three times a week to attend swimming and fitness training in Silverdale.
“At the moment I rely on family to take me which has been great but as I am planning to increase my number of pool and gym visits and total time training, I would prefer the independence of having my own transport,” says Portia.
She is a novice driver on a limited budget and a little nervous about driving on such a busy highway.
“Can Driven pass on any buying tips that would help make my journeys a little safer?” asks Portia.
The Budget: $6000
With your limited budget I suggest we think outside the square in an effort to find the best compromise.
First up is vehicle colour.
With winter approaching you will be travelling in bleak conditions and driving at night on occasions so avoid darker colours.
A couple of airbags and Anti-Locking Brakes (ABS) are going to be the best to hope for in this price range but also aim for good tyres, such as the new fuel efficient type with proven improvements in stopping distances on wet surfaces. Headlight illumination is another important check to add to the list, and check the condition of plastic or polycarbonate lenses as over time they can be discoloured, dull or scratched.
You will require a vehicle with adequate engine power for keeping up with the traffic flow or when overtaking slower traffic and anything under 1200cc would struggle.
Some sort of pre- purchase inspection plus a new WoF before purchase should identify any major mechanical issues, but if you can whittle down the list of possible contenders first it does help.
A proven past service history with receipts to show is also important, while minimal owners can often mean a car has been well loved.
Although the industry has moved away from replacement maintenance items such as cambelts, in this price range they are still very common so it would pay to check the last time the belt was replaced, if fitted.
The Budget: $6000.
The 2005 1.4-litre Getz hatch is one of my favourite cars in this price bracket. They are easy to drive and very reliable.
A very popular car for the district nurses in Auckland which highlights their practicality.
The 2006 Mazda2 hatchback is another solid performer with a number of used imports badged as Demio.
Engine sizes could fluctuate between 1.3- and 1.5-litre so it would pay to compare specification levels if tossing up between the different options.
Check out the 1.3-litre hatch from around 2007 but be warned there are lots to choose from, including used imports (Vitz).
To help reduce the headache when searching, a three-door variant may be all you require and will narrow the field of options.
A couple of driving tips regardelss of what you buy. Avoid hugging the centre line when driving on those open roads.
Stay well to the left and get into the habit of driving with the headlights on - just remember to switch them off when parked.