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Our children grow up so fast. Before we know it, they’re getting ready to learn how to drive, take their test, and pick out their first car. That naturally makes us nervous, as teen drivers are more likely to get into accidents. Fortunately, the car you choose can greatly decrease their risks.
How to Pick Out Your Teen’s First Car
Whether your teens have dreams of driving a sports car or something more sensible, you can help them make better choices by showing them what it means to own and afford a vehicle.
Set a Car Buying Budget With Your Teen
In the United States, the average cost of a new car is $50,000. This can make it impossible for your teen to afford a new car, even with financing, but a used car may be within their budget. Be sure to explain the added expenses that come with owning a car, like gas and insurance.
If you need help drafting a budget, ask for help. Always remember that asking for help as a parent is never shameful, and it’s okay to be unfamiliar with finances. Say the same thing to your teen and explain that if they need any help, you can get them in touch with a professional.
Shop Insurance Rates for Teen Drivers
Teen drivers have sky-high insurance rates, but it’s still possible to find cheap car insurance coverage for teens. While teens won’t get as many discounts as adult drivers, they can still get good student, good driver, airbag, seat belt, defensive driving, and driving training discounts.
Explain to your teen that 16 to 18-year-olds pay $6,912 to $4,958 per year on insurance, but they can shop around for better rates. For example, Erie Insurance has an annual cost estimate of $3,410 for 16-year-olds (new drivers), $3,137 for 17-year-olds, and $2,888 for 18-year-olds.
Search Car Listing Sites for Used Vehicles
New vehicles are probably way out of your teen’s price range. Even if you’re paying for the car, your teen’s car payments could be too expensive. On the other hand, many used cars can be bought outright, typically have lower insurance rates, and may offer better value than new cars.
With that said, you need to be careful when buying used. Avoid dealers that specialize in low deals or individual sellers offering their vehicles at a lower rate than market value. To be safe, ask a trusted mechanic to check the car out before you buy it, especially for a private sale.
Ask Individual Sellers for a Test Drive
Believe it or not, individual sellers can be more reliable than dealerships because they’re not pressured to sell. Even so, you should ask all sellers how many miles the vehicle traveled, how long it’s been since it’s had maintenance performed, and whether anything is currently broken.
Then, take it for a test drive. The seller will naturally want to be in the car with the driver, so if your teen is coming along, make sure you stay with them. On the test drive, check how the car controls, the wheel alignment, for unusual noises, the fuel efficiency, and the steering.
Always Negotiate and Read the Paperwork
It’s always a good idea to negotiate, even at a dealership. In fact, salespeople expect you to do it, so they typically have a range they’ll accept. When negotiating, always come prepared with data, like how much similar cars are selling for. Leave if you don’t think you’re getting a deal.
Once negotiations are through, take the time to read and fill out any and all paperwork. While you will be tempted to sign, don’t do it. You should always review the entire contract with the seller and another adult (preferably a lawyer), so you can ask questions or make corrections.