Selecting the Right Car for Your Teen
Selecting a car for your teen is a major decision that begins with several little decisions. Are they going to drive your car, or get their own? Are they going to get a new car, or a used one? Are they going to buy it themselves, or will it be a sweet 16 present? There’s a lot to consider, so let’s begin.
New or Used Cars for Teens?
As a concerned parent, you may feel the urge to limit their travels. Many parents do this by limiting their driving time to whenever they can borrow your car. Those parents tend to get sick of heading out to work, only to find themselves with an empty tank of gas. So let’s just say your teen will be driving their own car.
New or used? That is the question. On the one hand, you want them to drive something reliable, trustworthy and dependable. But on the other hand, you don’t want to pour a lot of money into the car. Because they are the least-experienced drivers on the road, the odds of them getting into a fender-bender are much greater, so an older car makes sense.
Here are the factors you’ll want to consider when picking out your teenager’s first car – new or used:
- Safety: First and foremost, you want something to keep your kid safe in case of an accident
- Cost: Nobody wants to overpay for anything. Shopping around is always a good idea.
- Looks: Nope. Don’t concern yourself with the aesthetic of the car. Plenty of time for that later in life.
If it’s a used car, you can pretty much assume it’s been driven like a rental. Things WILL break much quicker than expected. However, you can mitigate the hazard and potential costs down the road by asking a few questions ahead of time:
- How many owners? This is almost more important than the mileage. Best-case scenario – an older person who has owned the car for a long time, but only barely drove it.
- Check the engine, tires, and service records. If the seller claims they don’t have proof of the oil changes, tire rotations, etc, then you can probably assume they weren’t very good at keeping up on that stuff in the first place.
Raise a Responsible Child
New or old, expensive or cheap, it mostly comes down to the education your child has – both behind the wheel and at home. If you teach them the importance – and potential danger – a car represents, they will be inclined to drive safely. If they have to buy their own car by working a part-time job for a few years, they will have a better understanding of value, and treat the car better.
Every state is different, with some offering Graduated Driver’s License programs to give newbie drivers a little more time behind the wheel under safer circumstances (daytime, for one). Whatever your state laws say, it’s never a bad idea to give your teenager additional driving classes. The more practice they have, the better they will be behind the wheel, and the more confident you will be in their ability. And it could also save you money – auto insurance for teenage drivers is costly!