Teenagers lead busy lives. Between school, sports, work and other activities, giving your teen a car can simplify your life and theirs. But choosing the right car can be difficult.
So how do you, as a parent, make the best decision about which car to buy? The following are some frequently asked questions you should consider. It'll point you in the right direction and narrow down your options.
There is no right or wrong answer. However, there are factors parents should consider that will affect the new vs. used car decision.
Here are some new car factors:
But there are some benefits to old cars, too:
That being said, this issue comes down to:
Most parents buy used cars for their teens because:
It's best to purchase your teen's used car from a lot where the vehicle is dealer-certified and comes with a limited warranty. If you purchase a used car from a private seller, you may be unaware of the car’s history and if it has safety or reliability issues.
This doesn't mean you can never purchase from a private seller. Doing so comes without dealer costs, so you can get a better deal. Regardless of where you purchase, get a report on the car. Take it to a mechanic if you have to. A deal isn't a deal if you're paying for repairs every few months.
The Bottom Line: If you buy a used car for your teen, here's what you should pay attention to:
The best car for one teen won't be the best car for another teen. This means that parents should pay attention to several factors, like:
Keep in mind that while cost is one factor that can affect most of the others, you can save money in other areas. For example, you may be able to recover a portion of these costs as reductions on your insurance premiums.
Safety is by far every parent's biggest concern for their teen.
A large part of safety has to do with your teen's behavior, including seatbelt use and avoidance of cell phones while driving. But the car itself matters, as does maintaining it properly to ensure it's as safe as possible.
Let's talk about size first:
This often means the safest choice is a large or mid-sized sedan. They're heavier than subcompact cars, not as big as SUVs, and have enough weight with just enough power to keep your teen protected.
A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study found that in traffic accidents involving male drivers under the age of 25, the vehicles least likely to cause fatal injuries included:
The vehicles in which drivers were most likely to suffer a fatality were:
Before purchasing any vehicle, be sure to check out its safety ratings by consulting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA). These groups put vehicles through rigorous safety testing and publish their results on their websites.
You can't see the future. But keeping your teen's car well-maintained and getting it inspected annually will go a long way. Some cars, however, are known to have problems.
If you're purchasing a used car, you can easily find the car's reliability rating. The dealer should have a report. If the dealer doesn't, you can find a report online. If you are purchasing a new car, you should base its potential reliability on the maker’s track record.
Some reliability issues aren't things you can plan for. Be sure that your child knows what to do in the event of a breakdown. If your insurance provider offers roadside assistance as a coverage option, you may want to invest in it. This gives your teen a phone number to call if they ever have a problem.
It's a fact: Teen drivers are one of the groups most likely to get in an accident. This happens because of driver inexperience, distractions, and careless behavior. When you add a teen driver to your insurance, you can expect your rates to rise - but it might not be by as much as you think.
Luckily, certain discounts are available. For example:
Speak with a representative at your insurance company to learn how you can keep your costs at a reasonable level.