Your teen put in the hours, studied for the test and finally earned their driver’s license. Now you find them asking to borrow your car all the time. Suddenly it makes sense for them to have their own car to drive to and from school and to their new job. Here are all the essential things to consider when buying a car for your new driver.
Look For Safety
The priority when helping your teenager buy a car is safety. Instead of focusing on size, fuel economy and repair costs, first, make sure the vehicle you buy is rated well by the NHTSA for crash test safety. Teens are more likely to be in an accident than you or another more experienced driver. Newer cars have a lot more built-in safety features like rear cameras and parking assist. These factors will help you to narrow down your choices of what make and model car to buy.
Educate Your Young Driver
The best gift you can give your teen, other than their first car, is passing along your experience and knowledge. First, stress to them the point that owning a car is a privilege, not a right, and they must continue to earn that right by following your rules and being safe.
Even after your child gets their license, you should periodically go out driving with them and go over safety rules and common sense driving tips. The more they hear it, the better it will stick.
Provide your teen with strict boundaries for when they can drive the new car, who can be in the car with them and what you expect from them in return.
New or Used
The biggest question parents face when buying a teenager their first car is whether to buy new or used. There are great arguments for both. You will want to spend time researching and considering both options.
A used car will cost less, the insurance will be cheaper, and you might be able to get a more expensive car than if you buy new. However, the downside is it is a used car and may come with mechanics or electrical issues and have problems down the road. You will want to do a lot of research on what used cars are available, rated safe, hold their value and are cheap to maintain.
A new car offers a wealth of new safety options plus a long warranty, so if anything goes wrong, it is covered. New cars cost more though, and the insurance will be higher too, so that is a consideration.
Don’t Forget the Insurance
Many states in the U.S. require automobile insurance, so this must be factored in when considering a car. Newer cars cost more to insure. Insurance for teenagers can be costly as they are new, inexperienced drivers and more likely to get into trouble. Making your teen pay at least a portion of the monthly insurance will help them become responsible adults and form the connection that their safe driving equals cheaper coverage in the future.
Teach Responsibility of Ownership
One of the best ways to help your teen appreciate the privilege of having a car is to share the cost and responsibility of owning it. By paying for their gas, maintenance and some portion of the cost will help them learn how the real world works for adults. You can set a monthly car payment and have them pay you for a portion of the cost of the new car.
Finding the Most Reliable Cars
There are plenty of great websites that can help you with doing vehicle research to find the best, most reliable cars for teenagers. Once you find one you think might be a good match, you can run a VIN check to find out the accident and maintenance history of the car before you purchase.
Historically the most reliable cars with high safety-ratings are Toyota, Subaru, Honda, and Volvo. Before you even visit a dealership or private seller, do your homework online so you can have a short list of safe, reliable cars you will feel good about your teen driving.
The more you know about the make, model, and history of a vehicle will give you peace of mind that your teenager is driving safe and sound.
Monitoring Your Teen
Using a tracking device, you can take teen driving safety to the next level by monitoring your teen’s driving performance. You can pick up a Plug-N-Track or CarChip Pro for between $100 -$300 to track their speed, braking and acceleration rates along with driving times and other data. You can also download an app to your teen’s phone that will do the same thing for a monthly fee. A couple of examples are AccuTracking and Speedbump.
About The Author
Emily Andrews is a busy mom of 2 and the marketing communications specialist at RecordsFinder, an online public records search company. Communications specialist by day and community volunteer at night, she believes in compassion and defending the defenseless.