When it comes to buying your teenager’s first car, safety and reliability are probably at the top of your priorities. But there are a lot of other aspects to keep in mind, such as financial implications and new responsibilities for your teen. Doing some research and planning out some things in advance may help you make the best decisions for both yourself and the new driver.
New Car or Used Car?
This is probably the first question that pops in your mind when you decide to purchase a car for your teenager. Before making any decision, you should compare the expenses and characteristics of both options. Keep in mind that, while an old car is much cheaper, it does not offer the same features that are now available on new cars, such as autopilot, backup cameras or driver-assist technologies.
Also, old cars may come with some additional expenses that, if added up, can get the price pretty close to the one of a new car. If you choose to purchase a used car, make sure to perform a VIN check, to see the car’s history and past issues. This will give you some peace of mind when your teen gets behind the wheel and also help you avoid any future issues.
Know Your Expenses
Buying a car does not involve just the price car and there are some things you need to take into consideration. If your teen is under the age of 18, you will have to buy the car on your name, until they are old enough to own a vehicle. You can choose to transfer the title afterwards, or keep it on your name even after they turn 18.
Next, you will have to ensure the car, which also involves some costs. This is where having the car registered under your name can save you some dollars. Adding a teen driver on the insurance policy usually increase the family’s annual premium by around 78%. Adding the car to the policy will also increase the price, but it depends a lot on the characteristics of the car. This will, however, still be much cheaper than having your teen get their own policy, no matter if they are over 18.
If you want to truly teach your soon-to-be adult about the value of money, you can come up with a way for them to pay for part of the car price. Whether they get a summer job and pay you back a portion of the price over a certain period of time, or help you with chores and errands, this will teach them a thing or two about responsibility.
Whether you choose to buy a new car or a used one, safety should always be your number one priority. Keep in mind that, when you buy a car for your teen, your concerns are going to be different from what they would be if you bought the car for yourself.
First, you will have to think about size. While you might be tempted to think that an SUV is much safer than a midsize vehicle, but that is not necessarily the case. While large cars might suffer a lot less damage when involved in a crash, your priority should be to prevent crashes from happening in the first place. Large cars are much harder to control and park and they are not very cost-efficient either. On the other hand, compact vehicles are not a good choice either.
The best option remains a midsize sedan that focuses less on horsepower and more on safety. This is a good moment to involve your teen in the decision-making process and explain to them why you sometimes have to spend some time finding the best possible option for the money you have available.
Experts advise that buying a sports car for your teen, even if you can afford it, is one of the biggest mistakes a parent can make. This might give your child the urge to race with others or show off their new asset, which can turn out to be extremely dangerous. Look for a car that is not too fast, but not the slowest snail on the highway either. This will keep your child safe, until they gain more experience as a driver.
Set Up Some Ground Rules
Apart from figuring out if and how much they should pay for the car, you have to discuss other rules as well. These rules will help your teenager understand the responsibilities that come with being a full-time driver. When discussing rules, do not try to force them, but rather make your kid understand why their safety is so important. Here are some examples of rules that you can apply, in order to keep them safe and give yourself some peace of mind:
- Keep away from distractions: this includes eating, listening to loud music or having more than two friends in the car, if your teen is a beginner driver. New drivers are much likely to be easily distracted and this can lead up to serious problems.
- No using their phone while driving: this includes texting, taking selfies or talking on the phone.
- Always wear seatbelts: this rule should apply to anyone in the car, including yourself when you are a passenger. Not using the seatbelt increases the risk of injury in case of a crash by three times.
- No lending the vehicle: teens can sometimes be tempted to let their friends borrow the car. At least, they should ask for permission before doing so.
Besides those safety rules, your teen should also be responsible for certain payments that go towards the car, such as gas money, parking tickets and even traffic violations. This will help them understand the responsibilities they have and should teach them some important lessons about money management. If you want to help them, you can offer to pay for a tank of gas each month and, if they figure out they need more, they have to come up with the money from their own wallet. This highly depends on how much they use the car and for what reasons.