Buying Your Teen a Car

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It’s the day a lot of teenagers anticipate with excitement — and the one their parents anticipate with dread. Yes, we’re talking about the day a teenager gets their driver’s license. 

Now before you think we’re branding all teens as irresponsible individuals whose brains have yet to fully develop, the fact of the matter is a lot of teen drivers do have accidents. Parents are — and should be — concerned about this.  So, when it comes to buying your teen a car, there are a lot of considerations to make, including and especially keeping that young person safe. 


Here’s what to keep in mind when you’re shopping around.

Speed Thrills — And Kills

If you really don’t like your child and you want to avoid the cost of sending them to college, buy them the fastest car you can find with the fewest safety features available. 

On the other hand, do the exact opposite if you really love your child.

Yes, they’re going to want something “cool” and that something might often be a fire-breathing sports car with rakish good looks and an extremely low 0-60 time. However, handing something like that over to someone who has limited experience on the road is like handing a loaded gun to a toddler and leaving the room. 

There is a wide variety of cars with style and good looks that won’t encourage your child to run wild the minute they’re out of your sight.

Make Them Pay to Play

A lot of parents believe giving a teen a car is a good way to encourage them to be irresponsible when it comes to caring for it. They’ll think they can fall back on the “Bank of Mommy & Daddy” to fix any issues. 

However, when you make them earn part of the money to get the car themselves and be responsible for paying their own insurance and buying their own fuel, they tend to be more careful. 

There’s nothing like having skin in the game to make you play more cautiously. 

Require them to save up the down payment and make at least half of the monthly payment. Help them understand the expenses associated with owning a car entail more than just the monthly payment. They’ll ultimately have to pay for fuel, registration, parking, insurance and maintenance. 

New or Used?

The advantages of going with a new car are it’s under warranty, less likely to have mechanical issues and you can more readily choose between leasing vs. buying. On the other hand, you can get a warranty on a certified pre-owned car and let someone else absorb the depreciation, while getting your child a car they can keep for more than a few years. 

There really is no right or wrong answer here; it depends upon your circumstances. Take a good look at yours before deciding whether to buy or lease a new car for your teen, or purchase used.

Key Features 

As we mentioned above, safety should be your foremost consideration. Many systems in modern cars can help save inexperienced drivers from themselves. Even better, finding a model equipped with them can make the vehicle less expensive to insure

These include electronic stability control, automatic emergency braking and blind stop warning systems. Forward collision warning, obstacle avoidance performance and limited acceleration are desirable features as well. 

Most of that technology has been around a while, so finding it on a reliable used car is relatively easy to do. Smartphone connectivity is a good feature to have as well, so they won’t get caught up fiddling with their phone when they should be paying attention to the road.

Buying your teen a car with these points in mind will help you find something they can like and you will love — while keeping them safe and minimizing the associated expenses.

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