Teaching a teen to drive can be a white-knuckled, hold-on-for-dear-life experience. But once you've conquered the fear, and they've passed their road test, you have to make a decision: Will your teenage driver use your car, or will they get their own?
If you choose the latter, you should know what to look for when buying a car with your teen. We're willing to bet that you and your new driver have differing opinions when it comes to what car to buy.
That's why we've put together the ultimate guide for buying a safe – and affordable – car for the teen driver in your family. We'll explain the "must haves" and "have not's," so that your teen gets a safe car and you get some peace of mind.
You have to decide early on if you're going to buy new or used. More often than not, purchasing a gently used car is the best route to go, considering that most new cars come with a high price point.
However, you don't want to buy an exceedingly old car for you new driver either. The farther back you go in years (or even decades), the fewer safety features are included with the car. And we're not just talking about new airbags.
Newer vehicles have the benefits of recent technological developments. This includes the addition of electronic vehicle stability, updated crumple zones, on-board assistance, speed controls, numerous sensors reporting on everything from tire pressure to fluid levels, and much more.
Many parents of new teen drivers approach the buying process thinking they want to put their child in a tank. How could you not want the most indestructible car out there for your child?
However, we caution parents to understand that bigger isn't always better. In fact, we recommend avoiding larger vehicles like full-size SUVs and trucks. They're harder to maneuver and have much higher centers of gravity than other vehicles. This could lead to more collisions and possible rollover accidents.
But that doesn't mean you should put your teen in a tiny car either. Avoid compacts and subcompacts. These vehicles are generally less safe and subject to far more structural damage because of their tiny frames.
As much are your teen might cringe at the idea, a nice mid-size sedan would fit them perfectly. You might also consider a crossover SUV, which generally has a lower center of gravity and is built to perform much more like a car than its full-size SUV counterpart. Also, if you live in an area with snow and ice, the all wheel drive option on most crossovers could help in winter conditions.
We should probably stress this as well: Don't buy your new, inexperienced teenage driver a sports car. They might beg and plead, but the combination of inexperience and speed is often dangerous and even deadly.
For many young drivers, the temptation for pushing a sports car to its limit will be great, especially if they're driving it every day. There's nothing wrong with sports cars, but leave them to the experienced drivers.
Not to mention that insuring a teen driver on a sportier automobile will cost you. At the early stages of their driving career, it's best to avoid the sports cars for now.
At the end of the day, what's most important is how your teen drives, not what they're driving. Even after they get their license, teen drivers need to continue to learn and adapt to become better drivers.
Be sure to encourage distraction-free driving by helping your teen avoid using their cellphone. Some newer cars come with features that can block incoming texts or apply hands-free commands to keep the drivers attention on the road.
Discuss the dangers of alcohol and driving with your teen. While it's never something we like to think about, they might be pressured into drinking. Be sure you've discussed the dangers and what to do in these scenarios, so they can stay safe and sober. Try signing our pledge – it's a great first step!
Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens. The statistics are startling. Be sure to stress all the precautions and safety tips you can with your new driver. With a little help and guidance, we're sure they will develop into safe, confident drivers.
We know that accidents happen, no matter how safe you drive. That's why we're here. If you or someone you love is injured in an auto accident, give our legal professionals a call at 1-866-943-3427 for a free legal consultation.
We'll help answer your questions and get you the legal help you need.