The First Car for Beginners - Guide

Kamilya - October 27, 2023

Finally 18 and with a driver's license in your pocket!

That means freedom, independence from your parents, and an important step into adulthood. But wait, there's one thing missing to complete your happiness: your first car (preferably a stylish one that leaves an impression). When you look at the prices of used cars and your wallet, you might feel a bit disheartened.

Maybe you're lucky and can take over your parents' old vehicle. Its paint may be a bit worn, but it still runs. Perhaps your grandparents will sponsor your first car. Or you work long enough to earn the necessary sum.

We at CARIFY will show you how to find the right car for you and what else you need to consider.

Cars for beginners - how to choose the best car:

Before you buy your first car, you should think it through carefully and ideally seek advice from someone knowledgeable about cars.

With used cars, what seems like a bargain can quickly turn out to be a lemon. Your car might end up in the garage for repairs more often than on the road. Our step-by-step guide will help you avoid the mistakes that many novice drivers make.

Set a budget

It goes without saying that you'll need money to buy a car. Taking out a loan for the purchase price is not a good idea. Firstly, young people usually can't get such a high loan, and secondly, the monthly payments plus interest will burden you heavily. So, the first step is to adjust your car desires to your budget.

This leads us to the next point:

Choose the size and type of car

Sedans, station wagons, SUVs - they come with a high price tag even as new cars and are rarely as cheap as used ones. Compact cars are significantly more affordable and offer advantages like maneuverability and easier parking. Another plus is that they are cheaper to maintain. We'll tell you more about this later.

Used or new car for a novice driver?

New or used? Both have their pros and cons. Used cars are popular among novice drivers. In addition to the lower purchase price, you'll worry less if you make a parking mistake and the car gets scratched or dented. However, you never know when the first significant engine issues might arise. You won't enjoy a used car that's prone to frequent repairs, and you certainly don't want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with it.

On the upside, you might be able to afford a larger car that can accommodate luggage or musical instruments.

With a new car, you'll hardly need major repairs in the first few years. It reliably starts in winter, but every scratch reduces the vehicle's value. Due to the high initial price, young drivers can usually only afford a small car.

Can't afford a new or slightly used car at the beginning of your career?

With CARIFY's car subscription, you'll always get a new or well-maintained, almost-new vehicle. What's more, our flexible subscription terms starting from 1 month allow you to match your vehicle to your needs. Use a compact car for university, and for a road trip during the holidays, get a station wagon. A spacious minivan can take you and your friends to a festival and even provide sleeping accommodations.

With us, you can get most vehicles from the age of 18 (only cars with more than 350 horsepower have a minimum age of 30). We'll tell you about the other advantages of a subscription car in the following sections.

Safety first:

Consider all aspects As a novice driver, you don't have the driving experience to be prepared for all situations, such as ice, sharp curves, or fog. It's essential that your car doesn't pose an additional safety risk and is in good working order. This includes responsive brakes, properly adjusted lighting, and tires with sufficient tread for the season.

All of this helps only to a limited extent if you lose control of the car. Modern cars come with safety assistants that help you handle dangerous situations well.

These include:

  • Brake Assist: The brake booster provides the necessary brake pressure during emergency braking.

  • Anti-lock Braking System: It prevents the tires from locking up during braking, maintaining traction.

  • Adaptive Lighting: It adjusts to the road's layout so that you can better perceive oncoming vehicles and obstacles.

  • Electronic Stability Control (ESP or ESC): It intervenes when you oversteer or understeer and corrects it to prevent skidding.

  • Cruise Control: It helps you avoid exceeding the speed limit.

  • Distance Control: It monitors the distance to the vehicles ahead and adjusts your speed to avoid collisions.

  • Lane Departure Warning System: It alerts you when you leave your lane without using the turn signal, which often happens during momentary lapses at the wheel.

Used cars often lack these safety features and are, if at all, equipped with only a few of them. In new cars, some of these are optional extras that increase the price. CARIFY subscription cars are not only in perfect technical condition and regularly maintained by us (including seasonal tire changes). You can also filter for your desired safety equipment for an extra level of security.

Fuel consumption

Another cost factor you should not overlook in your considerations is fuel consumption. Fuel prices are high, and a gas-guzzler can quickly drain your wallet. Older cars almost always consume more fuel than newer ones, and smaller cars consume less than larger ones.

Check insurance costs

If you've just obtained your driver's license, you'll be considered a novice driver for 2 years. Even after that, you'll be considered a young driver until you're under 25. This is significant for insurance companies. For car liability insurance, as a novice driver, you should take out additional coverage for gross negligence to protect yourself from damages caused by inadvertent driving mistakes.

Many insurance providers also require young drivers to pay a deductible, as they are statistically considered to have a higher risk of accidents. If you cause damage, you'll have to pay up to 1,000 CHF out of your pocket. In addition, you'll have to pay premiums for partial or full coverage insurance, which covers damages to your vehicle. Without driving experience, you start in the most expensive damage-free class.

It's worth comparing, as some insurers waive the deductible for young drivers. Alternatively, you can opt for a car subscription: At CARIFY, everything is included in the monthly rate for the car, including insurance. And we don't differentiate between new drivers and experienced ones. You'll pay the same affordable rate as everyone else.

For a small additional fee, you don't even have to pay a deductible for comprehensive insurance. Just choose our premium package.

Take a test drive

A test drive can help you determine if you feel safe in the car. With used cars, it can also help you identify certain defects. Tip: Bring someone who knows about cars with you.

Consider additional costs

In addition to the ongoing costs for the car, you'll need to account for taxes, inspections, maintenance/repairs, and tire changes. All of this adds up, and you'll notice how quickly you're spending hundreds of Swiss francs. Do you have that much in savings? That's what makes a CARIFY car subscription attractive for novice drivers. We cover all costs related to your vehicle, including registration, 24-hour roadside assistance, and the Swiss motorway vignette.

With so many partner garages throughout Switzerland, help is never far away.

Negotiate the price right

Whether it's a new car or a used one, there's always room for negotiations. It's best to bring someone with experience in car buying who has negotiation skills. This way, you can save a few hundred francs for sure.

Top 5 Cars for Beginners

A car subscription allows you to combine all the essential criteria for your first car. You'll get a technically sound vehicle with many safety features, a stylish appearance, and an affordable price. Here are our top 5 picks:

  1. Fiat 500: The Cinquecento has been a cult car for young people for generations and still looks anything but outdated. With an electric or hybrid drive, this little Italian is particularly cost-effective to run.

  2. Peugeot 208 e: Stylish on the outside and environmentally conscious on the inside, this electric French car makes for an ideal compact car for young drivers.

  3. Toyota Yaris: Behind its sporty exterior, this compact car hides an excellent safety system. It's also available as a hybrid version.

  4. Kia Picanto: This compact small car can safely navigate city traffic and is well-prepared for longer journeys. It's fuel-efficient and seats 5 people.

  5. VW Polo: Another classic choice. The Polo is known for reliability and safety and offers a spacious interior in the compact car class.


Young drivers often underestimate how much owning a car can cost.

It's easy to lose track, and your bank balance can quickly go into the negative. With a car subscription, this won't happen because you can see at a glance what you need to pay each month. Everything is included except for fuel. You can save on the purchase price of the car and still drive a sporty car without compromising on safety.

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