What to Consider When Buying a Car for Your Teen Driver

With graduation or senior year just around the corner, many parents consider giving a car as a gift to the young driver in their family. What makes the most sense and will give you peace of mind when your teenager is on the road? As the parent, you probably have an idea of the rules you will set, such as limiting their travels. However, you might wonder what car makes the most sense. Here are a few tips to help you decide.

Buy Used

A used vehicle, especially one that still has factory warranty coverage, is the most practical purchase for your young driver. Why? Because teenagers have less driving experience, which means the odds of them damaging the vehicle are greater. An older car makes more sense than brand new since it costs less and will be less expensive to insure.

While a certified pre-owned vehicle might be of interest because of the existing warranty, it will cost more than most used vehicles. A lease return vehicle offers the same benefits as CPO without the high price tag.

Safety First

The main question on every parent’s mind is what car is safest for their teen. Size matters when it comes to safety. You probably don’t want something too large, like an SUV or pick-up truck, which might be hard to control, or too small. A midsize sedan or similar vehicle often hits that sweet spot.

Safety features to look for include rearview cameras or parking sensors, blind spot detection, and side curtain airbags. Since these are features you tend to find in newer cars, keep in mind you can install a camera and blind spot monitor in an older car. A car with handsfree features and Bluetooth can help minimize distractions while keeping your teen connected. Some vehicles actually have the ability to stop phone usage over 5 miles an hour.

You might also want a vehicle that has parameters you can set for your teen driver, so they can’t exceed certain speeds or so the radio can’t exceed a certain volume. Electronic stability control is another safety feature to look for in a car. This helps the driver stay in control of a car on slippery and curvy roads. Visibility is another important consideration since some cars have better sight lines than others. This is why a test drive is important, to ensure your teen can see out of all the windows and find the blind spots.

Other Factors to Consider

Look at the car’s history to see how many owners it’s had, as well as the mileage and service records. Look for proof of oil changes and other upkeep. Check the engine and tires. Better yet, bring your teenager, and teach them how to do the same! Make sure the car has a CARFAX or AutoCheck, which can answer many of your questions. This is why we suggest a lease return vehicle since they generally have a detailed service record and may be covered under a limited warranty.

While your teen probably wants a car that looks good and will gravitate toward a sporty model, avoid fast cars with powerful engines. We aren’t suggesting a horse-drawn buggy (though that might be tempting for you, as a parent!), but a midsize vehicle with a strong body structure is your best bet.

This is an exciting time for both parent and teenager, and we can help you find the right car for your young driver! 

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