Buying a Car with Your Teenage Driver – Part 2

by Don Elliott on October 5, 2011

Setting up the budget and defining responsibilities were covered in “Buying a
Car with Your Teenager – Part 1
.” The next steps are choosing the right car, financing, buying car insurance, and post-sale details.

According to a Chrome Systems, Inc. study, 4 out of 5 car buyers shop online first. For a young car buyer, this is a natural way to go. AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, Carmax.com and craigslist.com are good places to start. Once you agree on some vehicles that might work, it is time to go look at cars.

Many car buyers get older cars because they fit the budget the best. Look at cars with which you are already familiar. The family car is the most obvious choice for your teenager’s first car. Friends, relatives, and neighbors may have a car for sale. They are most likely trustworthy and capable of telling you what car repairs may be needed. Private sellers that you don’t know are another source. However, the shortage of used cars makes buying a car from a private seller a very competitive market. Cash is a requirement.

Auto auctions are another place to look. Some knowledge of cars is recommended. However, buying at a car auction can be both exciting and a way to share the car buying responsibility together.

New and used car dealers are the professionals. They can help you find the right car. They also can provide a resource in the future for service and car repairs. If there is another car involved, car dealers can arrange for a trade-in and help with financing. My personal opinion is that shopping for the right car dealer is as important as shopping for the right car.

Buying the first car is an excellent opportunity to establish credit for your new teenage driver. Assuming that you have had the budget discussion, I highly recommend establishing a small loan that is the responsibility of your teenage driver, regardless of where the money comes.

Before you sign the papers on your new investment, make a call to your car insurance agent about coverage. The choice of car may be affected by the premium for car insurance. Older cars may not need collision coverage, for example. Muscle cars may have the right look, but the cost for car insurance might be too much.

Finally, insist that your teenage driver goes through a complete checkout with you in the driveway before they take off to show their friends the new used car. Make sure that they know how all of the equipment works, adjust the mirrors, and talk about seat belt usage. Also check that the oil, windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, and transmission fluids are all adequate for driving. Make sure your teenage driver can safely change a tire. Have your teenage driver make an envelope for the glove compartment that includes the vehicle registration, insurance card, a “What to do in case of an accident!” sheet, and your contact information in case they can’t make a call. Finally, make a trip to the automotive locksmith, hardware store, or car dealership to have two extra sets of keys made. Keep a set for yourself. When your teenager is not around, hide a key set on the exterior of the car in a magnetic key box. It is highly probable that they will loose their keys at the most inopportune time and miles away.

Buying the first car for your teenage driver can be lots of fun and a great learning experience for you both. Do it together, even if it takes a little extra effort. Consider it a bonus to getting a good deal on a used car value!

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