Public transportation is all well and good, as is borrowing a parent’s vehicle, but having your own car is a symbol of independence throughout the United States. Buying your teenage son or daughter a vehicle is a major milestone in his or her life, so it’s important to choose the right one. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you’re looking for just the right car:
Look Through the Used Car Listings
If you’re buying your teen a car, chances are pretty good it’s not the only one you’ll own, and so it’s not the only one you’ll have to pay for. As such, an affordable used vehicle is probably your best bet for getting a lot of car for a low price. A lower price also means paying less for auto insurance, which can get expensive, since teens are three times more likely than other age groups to get into accidents.
Talk to Your Kid
Surprises can certainly be fun, but only when it’s a welcome surprise, and a car is not the sort of thing you want to regret purchasing. That’s why it pays to talk with your child about the kind of car he or she wants (and what to expect you to buy).
You can discuss the sort of budget and monthly payments you’re setting as the upward limit, and the kinds of models you consider off-limits. It’s also a good excuse to teach him or her about credit scores and financial responsibility.
Consider Splitting the Costs
Job opportunities for teenagers tend to open up just as they reach driving age. Having to pay some or all the costs associated with owning a car could be a great way to encourage them to find and hold a steady job. Just make sure you break the news before you do anything else car-related, and it’s also a good idea to wait until he or she has a steady job first.
Buy an Electronic Chaperone
You can tell your teen the rules of the road, you can tell him or her to always wear that seat belt, and you can forbid things like texting and eating while driving, but the fact is that your child will make his or her own decisions. However, you can keep tabs on driving habits and even set a top speed, thanks to modern car monitoring devices.
This may feel like overkill depending on your relationship with your son or daughter, but you could arrange to stop using certain features over time, much like how the graduated driver’s license system slowly adds more rights and privileges over time.
Buying the right car for your teen is just as important as buying the right car for yourself, and you should put in just as much research and effort as you would for any other major purchase. Safety is important, but so is a reasonable price and not choosing a vehicle that your teen will hate.