So you’re on your way to your teen’s driving test, and all he can talk about is the car you promised him if he passes. It’s driving you crazy, but you did promise. And a promise is a promise. But while he’s worried about the color, the RPMs, and the dashboard features, you’ve got another set of concerns on your mind. They’re of a heartier nature, and this is probably a big decision for your family.
Let’s assume you’re not going to be purchasing a brand new car for your teenager, who will probably spill soda in it within the first week. Like all good parents, you’re concerned for his safety and you not only want him to behave responsibly once he has the car, but you want him to be safe in this vehicle. Here are some things you should consider before you head down to the used car dealership to pick out your new jalopy:
When buying a used car, do your research. Some brands of cars are known for lasting much longer than others. If your hope is that you’ll only have to purchase one car for your teenager, then you want to make sure it’s a car that will last and that will not need much in the way of work. Japanese and American cars are typically much cheaper to keep running after they get old. European car parts are much harder to come by and therefore much more expensive to replace.
- Make and model safety ratings
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has it’s own vehicle research center. You can start by searching online for sites that give the IIHS ratings for different cars because let’s face it- teenagers can sometimes do some pretty dumb things. If yours happens to, you want him in a safe vehicle.
- Used care history
VIN numbers are on cars for a reason. Use the one on the car you’re eyeing for your teen. Obtain a vehicle history report so you can know just where the car’s been, who owned it previously and the status of the title, whether or not it’s ever been in an accident and what kind of work has been done to it. If it’s been in an accident, even a minor fender bender you’ll need to take a much closer look at the car to determine if it’s a good buy.
Take the car your teen has his heart set on to an inspector and have it looked at. A car inspector will see the things that you don’t. He or she will look for things like corrosion, oil leaks, and frame damage caused by prior accidents.
- Budget and paying for the car
Now this subject matter has less to do with the car and more to do with your teen’s readiness actually to own a car. This is important because you don’t want him behind the wheel if he really isn’t there yet. Deciding how the car will be paid for during a preliminary budget discussion is an opportunity to teach your teen a life-long lesson in fiscal responsibility and gauge what kind of responsibility he’s really willing to take on. With a license and a car, must come a certain degree of maturity. There’s no faster way to get your teen to understand this concept than by having him participate in the payment plan. Whether you decide your teen must pay for all of the car or just part of it, contributing financially will help him understand that hard work helps pay for the things you want in life.
If you do you due diligence, there is no reason why you can’t end up with a really safe, and long lasting first car for your teenager. So head into that driver’s test with confidence, but buckle up, just in case!