What to Know About Buying a Car for a Teenager

(Last Updated On: April 18, 2019)

Getting your first car is practically a rite of passage when you’re growing up. That sense of freedom can’t be replaced by anything else. As a parent of a teen, however, you may not want your teen to be too free when they’re driving around for the first time. We’ve laid out some handy tips for parents who want to give their teen a great driving experience and memorable first car.

1.   Set a budget

Many new cars cost around $15,000. If that seems like it’s out of your budget, don’t worry – you can probably get a car that suits your teen’s needs for around $150-$200 a month with a good financing plan. Ideally, your son or daughter will have a part-time job with which they can pay for their monthly car payments or even just pay for a portion of it. Not only will this help your child get used to normal adult responsibilities, but it will also partially relieve the financial burden on your end.

Note: If you can pay for the full cost of the car up front, you’ll be able to save quite a bit of money interest. Ideally, you’ll be able to pay for the car using a sizable down payment, so you’ll be paying less interest over time.

Remember that your teen won’t just have to pay for monthly car payments, he or she will also have to think about related expenses like car insurance, gas, maintenance costs, and registration.

2.   Research

Before you buy a car, it’s important that you spend time thinking about what your teen will really need when it comes to their vehicle. Do they need something small so they can park easily in a crowded downtown area where their school is located? Does the car need to have a lower number of miles racked up so they can travel long distances without worrying about it breaking down?

Could your teen get to where they need to be with public transportation or a bike? Does a car provide a unique benefit they can’t get without other forms of transportation?

Will they be carrying a lot of sports equipment like bikes regularly? Are they going to need to transport other passengers?

When you figure out the answers to these questions, you’ll have a much better idea about what vehicle to invest in.

3.   Decide on new or used

Another decision you’ll have to make is buying a used versus a new car. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. For example, with a new vehicle from a trusted brand like Subaru, you’ll have lower maintenance costs, better gas mileage, and up-to-date safety features. In addition, you’ll likely receive a warranty that lasts for a year that covers basic repairs.

However, by investing in something like a used Volkswagen for sale, you’ll be paying a lot less and the vehicle will depreciate less than a brand new car. Insurance rates are generally going to be significantly cheaper as well. Plus, you’ll have multiple models to choose from instead of being limited to one year of new models.

4.   Test drive

Sure, research is helpful to figure out what kind of car you think you want to buy for your teen, but hands-on experience with the vehicle in question should also be a part of the decision-making process. You should test-drive the car for at least thirty minutes and drive it on a variety of road surfaces, so you get an idea of how the vehicle handles.

5.   Negotiate

This is where the “Research” step comes into play – it’s important to go into the purchase price negotiation with an idea of what you want to pay. We don’t mean you should lowball the seller because that strategy could sour the entire deal. Instead, ask for a fair market price.

Conclusion: buying a car doesn’t have to be intimidating

We get it – sending your teenager out on the road with a new set of wheels can be a scary prospect. We all hope our children will respect the rules of the road and drive responsibly, but we can’t guarantee they will. One part of their driving experience you can control, however, is your son or daughter’s car. Whether you choose new or used, pay close attention to what your child actually needs the vehicle for and of course, the safety features included. By using this guide, you’ll be on your way to one happy, mobile teen.

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