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The day has finally arrived, and your teenager has their driver’s license. Now, you need to find them a car. You want something reliable, safe, and efficient that won’t break the bank. Well, we’re here to help. Here are a few things to consider before you buy that can help you pick the best car for your teenager.

Buying New Versus Used

You can answer this question quickly if you can’t afford a new car, which is a scenario many people find themselves in. It costs much more to buy a new vehicle than a used one, so if you have a tight budget, shop for a used car. However you decide to get your car, buying vs leasing is an important thing to figure out when it comes to taking on a car.

New cars do offer the latest driver-assist technologies that can be beneficial to new drivers. New drivers are three times more likely to get in an accident than someone with three or more years of driving experience. Early warning systems, emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and more can help keep your teen driver safe. New cars also usually have lower maintenance costs than used cars.  

Repairs and maintenance costs can run in the hundreds of dollars a year or more, depending on how old a car you own. Many new cars come with complimentary maintenance programs. From a reliability standpoint, new cars win every time over used vehicles. New cars typically look nicer and trendier, too. This vehicle will park outside your home for the next few years. Do you want to see an eyesore full of dents, scratches, and rust every time you come home?

Maintenance History

If you do decide to buy a used car, check the vehicle’s maintenance history. You want to buy a car that was well cared for, not ignored. Regular oil changes, tire rotations, tuneups, and more add longevity to a vehicle. You also want to check a used car’s accident history. Several companies offer this service, and all you need is the vehicle identification number. You might uncover safety issues you don’t want to expose your teen driver to.

Big Versus Small

Size matters when it comes to new drivers. The smaller the vehicle, the easier it will be for a teen to control. Even with driver education courses and parents letting teens drive while riding shotgun, teen drivers learn the most by experience. Teens will have to navigate heavy traffic, tight parking spots, and highway speeds just like the rest of the driving population. Having a car that handles easily can help teens learn the skills that eventually allow them to drive any type of car, truck, or SUV.

Many people argue for buying a big car, truck, or SUV because they often perform better in crashes. If you want to ensure your teen has a size advantage on the road in the event of an accident, you might prefer a larger vehicle.

Are Sports Cars a Good Idea?

Your teen would love a new sports car, but all that horsepower could lead to dangerous driving. Don’t tempt a teen driver with more speed than they can handle. A teen’s maturity level might lead them to test that speed. Most teens don’t yet have a grasp on evasive maneuvering, driving in wet or wintry conditions, and more that make driving a sports car challenging. Sports cars have a higher rate of accidents than other vehicles, regardless of the driver’s age.

Research Safety Ratings

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs crash testing annually on every new vehicle. You can visit the NHTSA website to look up a specific car you want to buy or use it as a starting point to select several cars to shop for. The NHTSA uses a five-star crash-test rating system that’s easy to understand. It also assigns an overall score that factors in driver-assist systems, air bags, crumple zones, and other safety features.

Newer cars come with driver-assist technologies you won’t find on older cars, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add some of these systems to a used vehicle. Aftermarket manufacturers offer easy-to-install systems such as blind-spot warning or rearview cameras for as little as a few hundred dollars.

Insurance Costs

Research the cost of insuring a vehicle before buying it. Teen drivers pay a much higher premium than older, more experienced drivers. Auto insurance regulations vary by state and might require certain coverages that experienced drivers don’t need. Even for basic coverage, the premiums can run hundreds of dollars more than for average consumers. The highest premiums come with collision coverage. You don’t want to buy a car only to learn that it also costs $500 a month to insure. 

Reach out to your insurance agent or provider and ask what you can expect to pay for mandatory and optional coverage. If you plan to buy an old car that you expect to get dinged up, you might not care about collision coverage. Any new car you purchase with a loan will require at least this coverage.

Involve Your Teen in the Process

It might be tempting to handle the car-buying process yourself to avoid potential arguments about style, stereo systems, and price. Don’t succumb to this temptation. Use this experience as an opportunity to teach your teen about how to buy a car. At some point in your teen’s life, they will have to buy a car on their own. 

Teach them how to inspect a used car. Show them how to research safety ratings. Take them to the bank to apply for a car loan. Let them test-drive a new vehicle at a dealership. By doing these things with your teen, you’ll be giving them valuable skills they need later in life.

At Huffines Kia McKinney, we understand what it means to you to select the right car for your teen. Whether you decide to buy new or used, we have an expansive vehicle selection to meet any style or budget. We invite you to browse our inventory online or visit our dealership. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will show you the vehicles that best suit your needs, and our finance department will work with you to find the best loan should you need one. We will happily take your teen for a test drive in their chosen car.

Image via Flickr by Ivan Radic


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