Tips for Buying your Teen’s First Car

By Jessica Hoover

After months of hard work, your teen finally has a license and is ready to embark upon the first leg of automotive ownership. How do you help your teen choose their first car? The following offers a few important tips that should help you and your teen not only find a great first car, but also to drive it safely and economically.

Do the Math

Before choosing your teen’s new ride, you’ll want to sit down with him or her and determine how much you expect to spend for a new or used car. Keeping your teen in the financial loop helps you negotiate a price range that’s reasonable and give your teen realistic expectations about their vehicle and the car buying process in general.

Making your teen responsible for some of the fuel and upkeep costs gives him or her a sense of responsibility and a sizable stake in the vehicle’s well-being. To help your teen keep track of the fuel budget, you can download and install a handy smartphone app such as KickingLettuce Studios’ Gas Budget, available for most Android phones. Other technologies, like AT&T’s Smart Controls, can help curtail teen drivers’ smartphone usage as they drive.

Your teens can also pitch in when it comes to the insurance. Unfortunately, adding a teen driver to just about any insurance policy will guarantee that it skyrockets, as teens represent a riskier insurance pool than responsible adults. For more information,  you can see an in-depth review of State Farm auto insurance. The company’s website also features pointers for finding discounts and other reductions in their premiums.

Safety First

No matter what kind of car you choose, it has to be safe. A car with the best and latest in crash avoidance and crash safety equipment will help your teens avoid or, if need be, survive a crash with minimal injury. Because motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teenage death in Canada, according to the CCA (Canadian Automobile Association), it’s important to look for a vehicle with the best safety equipment available.

Newer vehicles have a plethora of advanced safety features, from side-impact airbags and active head restraints to nifty electronic features like lane departure warning systems and automatic braking. Even many of the older used cars on the market are likely to have traction control and stability control systems.

Set Boundaries

Your teens will try to push the envelope, so it’s important to set down some ground rules about what they can and can’t do with their car before handing them the keys. Establish a curfew to keep them from being out at all hours of the night. Set the number of miles they can drive in a day. Limit the number of friends, if any, they can have inside the car, as they can provide dangerous distractions for teen drivers when they need them least.

A written agreement also helps. The “I Promise Program” is an Ontario-based teen safe driving program that is an agreement between parents and teens in respect to the rules of the road.

If those rules are broken, don’t hesitate to bring some consequences into the picture. If they break curfew, rack up a bunch of speeding tickets or do something dangerous with their car, then it’s time to curtail their car privileges.


Jessica Hoover

Jessica is a Detroit native who made a childhood vow to never work in the automotive industry. Then she married an auto engineer. Now she blogs about – yep, you guessed it – cars and driving.

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