How To Buy A Car For Your Teen

Things to think about when car shopping for your new driver.
By Alison Lakin
Your kid has just gotten his license. Yes! No more shuttling around between school, sports practices or friend's houses. But you have to prepare yourself for the dreaded result of this momentous occasion: buying him a car. You might become inundated by visions of dollar bills pouring out of your wallet. Don't worry though, the experience doesn't have to be daunting, nor does it have to put you in debt.

Your Budget
Before you even think about which vehicle you're going to get your little angel, we need to talk money. A budget is vital to an automotive purchase, and it will probably determine whether you'll be buying a new or used car. Be sure to not only include the price of the car, but the insurance, gas and potential maintenance costs in your estimate as well. And, of course, this is also the part when you and your teen have a heart to heart about who's going to be paying for what. Be brave.

Choosing A Type Of Car
Remember that you're buying a car for your teenager. They'd probably like to not be laughed at by their peers and to own a car that they'll be able to take pride in. If you get them a beater that they hate, they'll treat it like a piece of junk. Since an auto is an investment, a car that inspires your kid to maintain it will be more advantageous to both of you.

Within every budget, there's a reasonably priced car that will fit your kid's needs and play to a certain "cool" factor. You don't have to get them a 300-hp racer, like they may suggest, but hearing what types of cars they're interested in will give you an idea of what to look for.

Think about what your teen does in their spare time. Space will probably be a big factor. All those friends? They've got to fit somewhere. All that gear for tennis lessons? It needs a place too. Do they head up to the mountains for snowboarding? Roof racks and all-wheel drive would be a must.

We know safety is a big selling point when buying your children their own car. Accident rates are highest among teens, so you want to make sure that, if they are ever so unlucky to crash, they'll be safe in their car. When you've narrowed down your vehicle choices, check the crash ratings at IIHS and NHTSA. These sites provide all the unbiased information you'll need to judge the safety of a car.

Parents and insurance companies are most likely on the same wavelength when it comes to accidents: both of you don't want it to happen to your driver. Whether you or your teen will be paying for the car insurance, it's necessary to know that teens usually have the highest premiums of any age group. Insurance companies go off statistics for this one. Certain cars have varying types of insurance rates. For example, a car with 120hp will get a better quote than one with 220hp. Less power equals less of a chance to get in an accident.

If you listen to your teen's considerations, while injecting some much-needed realism and practicality into the situation, you'll be able to find the ideal car for your young driver.

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