I've owned a car for over five years, I think three different cars, and I've learned a lot of things on the fly. Parents and friends don't tell you all the bad things but usually focus on the good things like how independent it makes you feel or how easy it makes your life. I'm going to tell you some things I've learned in the five plus years of driving and owning a car.
1. Car insurance is expensive! - If you're going to buy a car, don't forget you not only need money to purchase the car but also to insure it. If you lease, finance or flat out buy a newer car, you're going to want full coverage which is pricey. If you're in the United States and under 23, the price of insurance will make your head spin. Granted, many people will be under their parents which helps lessen the price but it will still make you weep if you have to pay for it and your parents don't. If you have accidents on your record and you're between 18 and 30, your insurance will kill you, as well. You're not just buying a car, you're also insuring it.
2. Maintenance can be expensive! - Maintenance includes: oil changes, tire rotations, wheel alignments, replacing windshield wipers, buying new tires, tune ups, and more. Depending upon the car you drive, the luxury brands like BMW are the worst, and how much you drive your car maintenance bill can be anywhere from $60 bucks to over $300 monthly. Also, the newer the car, the less likely it is that your maintenance will include buying expensive parts like a new battery, putting in breaks and such.
3. Gas can burn a hole in your wallet! - I drive a relatively economic car but even then I burn through easily over $100 dollars monthly in keeping gas in it. Now, if you're driving a BMW, Audi or Volvo, expect your gas bill to be double to triple of mine depending upon how much you drive. Gas is a necessity in order to drive your car so think long and hard about what kind of car you want and can afford.
4. Your living environment should play a role into the kind of car you drive! - If you live in a place that averages over two feet of snow in the winter or year round, don't get a sports car with rear wheel drive. The worst drive terrain in the snow is rear wheel, you'll be stuck all the damn time. Front wheel drive or all wheel drive is the best options when living in an area where ice and snow are the norm. If you live in Miami or Las Vegas, feel free to own that Corvette, though!
5. People will dent or scratch your car a lot! - My car has minor scratches from parking in parking decks next to idiots who can't park. Literally, any time you take your car out, especially in major cities when you park on the street, expect a scratch or a dent because people just don't pay attention.
6. Custom colors can be a pain! - My car is a very specific blue color that is only found on Mazdas. When I had a massive dent fixed it cost me over $100 more to fix because of all the blending involved in order to ensure the color on the new part of the car matched the originally color of the car since it was a custom color. Talk about pain in the ass!
7. Friends that don't have cars will use you as a taxi! - Yeah, prepare to be a taxi because your friends will guilt trip you on how they need something but can't get there. Normally it isn't an issue but sometimes it is tiring having to go out of your way. My favorite line is, "I'll pay your gas." So paying my gas makes up for the extra time of driving on my body thus making me tired? I think not, but nice try and I'll take you money.
8. In major cities you're almost guaranteed to have to pay for parking! - Oh, yeah, are you driving in Manhattan, Newark or Hoboken on a Friday night? Good luck finding free street parking in such a crowded area on a busy night! My best friend has become the Icon Parking App which allows you to reserve parking at parking garages and gives you discount coupons to ease the strain on my bank account.