Getting a driver’s license is a time-honored rite of passage for teenagers once they turn 16. A decision that parents have to make is whether they are going to get their teen his or her own vehicle. A lot of factors can go into such a decision, including the cost, how much driving your teen needs to do and whether or not you are comfortable letting your child drive one of your cars. If you do ultimately make the decision to buy an additional car for your teen, there are some things you should keep in mind. Here are five tips for buying your teen’s first car.
Find the right fit
Your teen may have an eye on a particular car, such as something sporty, but you want to focus on what’s going to be the best fit for them and their experience. For example, smaller cars can be easier for new drivers to handle, especially when it comes to tasks such as parking or going through drive-thrus. You also want to make sure the vehicle you buy has the features that are going to help your teen the most. For example, buying a car that has Bluetooth connectivity or a USB port will allow your teen to be able to use a smartphone in the car without being distracting or compromising safety.
Check with your insurer
Before buying a car for your teen, it’s a good idea to check with your auto insurance company. Your agent or a company representative may be able to give you advice on which vehicles are the best from an insurance rate perspective. Your car insurance rates will already go up significantly once your teen gets a license, and choosing the right vehicle will help keep the rate as down as possible.
Focus on safety
While affordability is going to be the driving factor for most families buying a vehicle for their teen, safety has to be at the forefront. Teen drivers are the most likely of any age group to get into an accident, largely based on inexperience but also because they are more likely to take risks. Making sure the car has the best safety features is paramount. At a minimum, the vehicle should have working seatbelt and airbag systems. If you can find an affordable car that has additional safety features, such as a backup camera or automatic braking, that’s all the better. The safer the vehicle is, the better your insurance rates are likely to be as well.
Have the vehicle inspected
Assuming you are buying a used car for your teen, it’s a good idea to have it inspected by a neutral third party. Even if the vehicle is “certified” by the dealer, it’s still prudent to have it looked at by another mechanic to look for hidden problems. If the dealer does not want to allow you to have the vehicle inspected, it’s a huge red flag and you should reconsider buying from that business.
Set expectations with your teen
If you are buying a car for your teen that will be primarily for his or her use, it’s important for you to set expectations about things such as behavior and parameters. Make clear that you own the car and are allowing the teen to drive it. Make sure, too, that your teen understands your expectations for things such as safe driving and what costs he or she may be expected to cover, such as gas.
A first car for a new teen driver is both an exciting and scary time. Following these tips will help make the process go more smoothly and induce less stress.