Buying a Car with Your Teenage Driver – Part 1

by Don Elliott on October 4, 2011

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of finding a car for your teenage driver, it’s time for some advice from a parent who has had the experience a couple of times. On one hand, sharing the experience may be a potentially great bonding experience. On the other hand, it may add more stress to an already stressful relationship. This may make for a very difficult car buying experience. First, let’s take a reality check. Your teenage driver may not take the same car buying approach that you did. The advent of Facebook, Twitter, smart phones, and a new kind of peer pressure changed the way teens approach car ownership. Auto manufacturers are painfully aware that young drivers are more aware of the new app on I-Tunes than the new car models at their dealerships.

Second, for many teenage drivers, car ownership is an assumed right of passage to adulthood. During the prosperous 2000’s, many households acquired new cars, added a second car, or invested in recreational products. The addition of another car creating hardship was not part of a family discussion. Before the car shopping begins, have a discussion about finances. This is an excellent opportunity to talk about your teenager’s budget. Decide who will pay for the cost of the car, gas, car insurance, and auto repairs. Consider how those expenses will affect clothes, cell phone, and college savings?

Third, talk about expectations related to the type of car that you choose together. As a parent, your concerns will tend towards safety, fuel efficiency, and cost to maintain. Your teenager’s concerns will be about how they look and how their friends perceive the car. Be sensitive to your teenager’s perceptions, but remember that you are the parent and in control of the finances.

In a recent survey by Allstate Insurance, no other hazard comes close to motor vehicle crashes as the cause of teenage fatalities. According to the survey, “aggressive driving, multiple passengers, speeding, cell phone usage, and not wearing seat belts contribute to a fatal crash rate among 16 to 19 year old teenagers that is four times the rate of older drivers.”

Lay down the rules. Make sure your teenage driver understands the limits of the car that you are choosing. Talk about car repair maintenance, checking the oil and tire pressure regularly, and keeping the car clean. Have your teen change a tire or two before you hand over the keys, regardless of the complaining.

We haven’t even talked about the details of choosing a car, where to buy, financing, and car insurance issues! We’ll get into that in “Buying a Car with Your Teenage Driver – Part 2.”

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