Buying a Car For Your Teen, Part One

1951 BuickDo you remember what your finances were like before you had kids?  Most parents wouldn’t trade any amount of money in the world for the joy that parenting gives them even though kids are expensive.  Expenses like clothing, food, summer camp, and tuition add up quickly.  And, most parents will tell you that it gets worse before it ever gets better.

Before you even get to consider how much college tuition will be, most teenagers will probably start nagging you about getting a car.  But even though an automobile can be an expensive purchase, it could end up paying for itself with all the time that you will save.  Some parents look forward to their children getting their driver’s license since they no longer have to shuttle them around to school and soccer practices.

And while you might think your time is infinitely valuable, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think long and hard before buying a car for your teenager.  There are some real issues that most people fail to consider when buying cars for their 16-year-old kids.  With that being said, let’s explore them.

Safety & Reliability

As much as your kid might beg for the latest and greatest car, safety should be your number one concern.  Driving can be a dangerous proposition and although your child may be a great driver, you can’t always control the person next to them.  As a parent, it’s imperative that you put your child in a safe automobile so that if something were to happen they’d be in good hands.

Automobile reliability isn’t the coolest feature of a car but it is definitely beneficial to a young driver.  You don’t want a car that’s going to break down all the time since your son or daughter won’t have the means to fix it.  So you know what that means: they’ll be calling you to come get them and get the car towed or get a new battery installed.

Getting the Car Insured

When most people learn how to ride a bicycle, they inevitably fall a few times before they get the hang of it.  In fact, any time you learn a new skill, you’re going to make a few mistakes at first.  The same is true with driving an automobile.  It takes years of practice before you are in full command of the road.

There’s a reason why insurance rates are so high for teenage drivers: they’re more likely to get into an accident.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just the way things are.  And as much as you’d like to think it won’t happen to your son or daughter, there’s a good chance it will.

Consider finding a second-hand car in order to reduce your insurance premiums.  Insurers love to charge high premiums for fast cars and/or luxury cars.  Think of their first car as a practice vehicle.  They’re going to get some bumps and scratches here and there but after a few years they’ll get the hang of it.

What criteria did you use when buying your teenager their first car?

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  1. If my kid was responsible enough to deserve a car, I would buy the safest one I can find, probably a 2-5 year old car to save on insurance and a car that will last through college and the first few years as a professional.
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