8 Tips Help Prepare You for Buying Your Teen’s First Car

It may be hard to believe that your “baby” is old enough to drive a car. Now that your teen has shown that they will be safe and wise when operating a vehicle, you’re considering purchasing a vehicle for them. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re searching for your teen’s first car.

1. Safety First

Teens are one of the groups of drivers who pose the most risk on the road. It’s important to get a car for your teen that has built-in safety features such as side-crash prevention and emergency braking. You should also select a roadside assistance plan for your child in case they are in an accident or get a flat tire. A mid-size sedan is often a better choice than a smaller car when it comes to safety since these vehicles are easier to handle and don’t have as much braking distance as a larger vehicle.

2. Consider the Pros and Cons

Over 80% of parents who purchased a car for their teen said they purchase a used vehicle according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, parents should keep in mind that the money saved on an older vehicle could be used for maintenance and repairs in the future. It is also important to note that many of the advanced technologies that keep drivers safe are available on newer cars.

When you buy your teen’s first car, you should expect it to be damaged at least once or twice. This is understandable, given that your teen is still learning to drive. The car could get a flat tire or be scratched. As a general rule, you should keep a car repair kit on hand, containing items such as a car iron, gloves, and a car-specific touch-up paint tool, to name a few, for emergency repairs even while driving.

3. Under the Costs

Whether your teen has saved up enough money to buy their own car, you’re purchasing the car for them, or you’re working together to buy a vehicle for your teen, there will be a shift in the family budget. Inform your teen that having a car can be costly. They’ll have to pay for gas and you may even ask them to help pay for insurance or repairs. Owning a car can help your child organize their budget and develop healthy financial habits as well.

4. Research Online

Before you visit the dealership, research the vehicle you’re interested in online. Read some customer reviews to get an idea of how reliable the car is and how well it performs. You should also learn which models of cars are popular among drivers for their safety features so you’ll feel more comfortable when your teen is on the road.

5. Take a Test Drive

Once you’ve done your research and have a short list of vehicles, you should test drive the cars. Make sure your teen feels comfortable behind the wheel and knows how to work the vehicle. You should test drive the car as well so you can observe any features in the car your teen may not notice.

6. Come Up With a Plan for Finances

If you choose to finance your teen’s vehicle, the auto loan should be in your name. Even though your child is too young to get the loan in their name, you can still help them form good financial habits by establishing an amount they will pay on the loan each month. You can also create a budget with your teen for gas and insurance.

7. Explain the Rules

Even though you may have gone over the parts of the car and the safety precautions your teen should take when driving, you should also discuss the rules of using the car with them. For instance, you may instruct your teen not to let anyone else drive the car. Or, you can let your young driver know that they are only allowed to have one or two other friends in the car with them, and these friends must have a permit or license.

As you remind your teen to always wear their seat belt and drive according to the speed limit, you should also emphasize that your teen should never drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Some parents have even made a pact with their children: the parent will pick the child up if the child calls to say they are drunk or intoxicated. While most parents aren’t thrilled about their children smoking and/or drinking, they don’t want their children to put their lives in danger by driving under the influence.

8. Practice

Driving practice can be challenging for teens and parents. However, this step is necessary for your child to become accustomed to being on the road and safely operating a vehicle. Try practicing in your neighborhood first then transition to one of the least busy streets in your community. After a few weeks, your teen may be ready for highway driving. The more you practice driving with your teen, the more at ease you’ll feel when your son or daughter is on the road by themselves.

Your teenager learning to drive is a significant milestone. While your teen is likely ecstatic about learning to drive, you may have some concerns. Explaining that driving is both a privilege and a very serious matter can help your teen enjoy their first car by implementing safe driving habits that will hopefully last a lifetime.


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