Getting a car is considered a rite of passage for many teens. It is instant freedom behind the wheel, and instant panic of parents. Buying a car for your teen requires even more consideration than buying a car for an adult. Here is a quick buying guide to help you navigate the dangerous waters of teen car buying.
Type of Car
Do not be swayed by the parents on “My Super Sweet 16.” A teen does not need a Lamborghini or Porsche for his or her first set of wheels. In fact, that is quite possibly the worst idea.
Teens are still honing their new driving skills by the time they start eyeing a car (READ: 6 months on the road). Is a $60,000+ sports car the right fit for someone still mastering parallel parking? Give your car insurance bill a little bit of a break, and buy your teen a sensible car.
The best kind of a car is not a specific brand or make, but one that has these features:
- High safety ratings. Teen drivers are more likely to get in an accident
- Good gas mileage.
- Not too fast. Teen cars do not need a lot of get-up and go. The idea is to get from point a to point b.
- A lot of metal surrounding the driver and passengers. RE: tiny cars and teen accidents don’t mix.
- Reasonable price and insurance costs.
- Reliable. No one wants to be stuck on the side of the road, especially your teen.
Maintenance of the Car
There is more to owning a car than just driving one around. Getting a car for your teen can also install a sense of responsibility as you discuss the maintenance of the car and, more importantly, who is responsible.
Car maintenance such as oil changes, car washes and gas fill-ups are all necessary costs associated with owning a car. First-time car owners need to be aware how often a car needs its oil changed (every 3,000 miles) to ensure the longevity of the car.
You need to set up car maintenance expectations with your teen, along with who is expected to pay for them. This can be a great learning experience for your teen as you find cheaper alternatives (coupons for oil changes and learning how to wash a car by hand). Even learning how to do simple car maintenance at home is something your teen can use for a lifetime.
Who should be in charge of the car payment will depend greatly on your financial situation. If your teen has a job, he or she could assume part of the responsibility for owning a car.
There are many different arrangements that families have worked out. Popular ones are the teen fronts the down payment and the parents help with the monthly payments, or vice versa. Either way, it gives the teen a sense of ownership and he or she will be more invested in keeping the car nice.
If your teen assumes monthly responsibility, teach him or her that late payments- even just a day- or extremely detrimental to one’s credit.
Happy car buying!