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What You Need to Know When Buying a Car for a Teenage Driver

Five Things to Know Before Buying Your Teen a Car

Looking for the best first car for your teen? While your teen may be begging you for that shiny, new sports car, it may not be the best choice for a novice driver. Here are five things you should know about finding the most reliable teen cars before heading to the dealership.

  1. Associated costs
    Before shopping for your teen’s first car, determine whether you or your teen will be responsible for the down payment, monthly payments, maintenance and repair costs, insurance, fuel, title and registration, and any other costs associated with owning and operating the vehicle.

  2. New vs. used cars for teens
    When you buy a new vehicle the overall cost may be higher, but you get the latest safety features and a manufacturer’s warranty to cover specific repairs that may arise. If you choose to buy a pre-owned vehicle, consider selecting a model that’s just a few years old. This allows you to get a newer car with updated safety features at a more budget-friendly price.

  3. Car size
    A general rule of thumb is that the bigger the car, the more protection it will provide in an accident due to the larger framework absorbing most of the impact. While an SUV is big, it may not be a good choice for young drivers due to the increased risk for rollover. Consider a large- to mid-size sedan for your teen’s car – there is less rollover risk yet still plenty of protection in the event of an accident.

    Appropriate cars for teenagers should also have an engine with average horsepower (110 – 150 hp for sedans) to discourage risky driving behaviors such as speeding.

  4. Safety features
    Deciding which features your teen’s first car should have is a very important consideration. Safety features like electronic stability control should always take priority over styling features like an attractive sun roof or state-of-the-art sound system. Newer safety features such as side airbags and anti-lock brakes can help keep your teen safe on the road. Check the latest crash test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to find out which models performed the best. 

  5. Car insurance for teens
    One last point to consider is car insurance for young drivers. Shop around and compare auto insurance quotes to find the most affordable rate from a reliable company that has provided years of service to teen drivers. Also, be sure to ask about discounts when your teen earns good grades in school or completes a driver safety course.

Safety and affordability are really the two main factors when it comes to finding the right car for your teen – buy a car with as many safety features as you can afford. Remember, a mid-size car with multiple of safety features and average horsepower can help keep your teen protected on the road. Talk to your teen about what is realistic and keep safety and reliability (vs. looks) as your priority.