As a parent, there are many ‘firsts’ you look forward to in your child’s life. First word. First steps. First day of school. First car. (Gulp!)
While a first car may be every teenager’s dream, it means sleepless nights for most parents. To help make the process of buying your teen their first car easier, there are several pieces
of homework to do in advance. Insurance on teen drivers is significantly higher, especially during their first several years of driving, because of the high risk for crashes with young drivers. Now is a good time to evaluate your insurance coverage and make sure you can get discounts if your child makes good grades, takes driver’s education or goes crash free for a period of time. Insurance rates also vary based on the type of car your teen will be driving, so be sure to check whether a class of vehicle will get a lower rate.
Taking your teen to a car lot before you have set expectations and limitations may lead to disappointment and frustrations. To your teen, a car represents freedom and social status.Your concern is safety. So it’s a good idea to evaluate several considerations and discuss them before ever stepping foot out the door. AAA offers valuable information on buying your teen a vehicle through their dedicated teen driver education program, Keys2Drive . Beyond resources on insurance, licensing and shopping tips, the site offers tips and suggestions for keeping teens safe behind the wheel.
5 Things to Consider
There are five categories to consider: vehicle type, safety features, reliability, affordability and familiarity.
- Vehicle type ties back in to your insurance classifications – sports car, SUV, sedan, van. While your teen may covet a sports car or SUV, you may be concerned about the temptation to speed or roll-over risks and prefer a sedan.
- Safety features are fairly standard on recent model vehicles, but if buying an older model , you’ll want a checklist of the features you find most important: anti-lock brakes, airbags, automatic lights, etc.
- Reliability could become a factor when buying used vehicles. Perhaps you want to inquire about optional warranties, roadside assistance programs, check vehicle reports and make sure you get the vehicle privately inspected before purchase.
- Affordability is a big factor in most vehicle buying decisions, and in most cases, the cost of insurance, maintenance and gas mileage of that vehicle should also be included.
- Familiarity is an important category often overlooked. Is the vehicle you are buying your teen similar to what they learned to drive? If not, they need to learn to drive the new vehicle before being released onto the open road. Experienced drivers know how to adjust to different vehicles in terms of power, size and features, but new drivers do not have those skills yet.
By establishing expectations and guidelines, buying your teenager’s first car will be a shopping experience you both can enjoy. Visit the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles Web site to make sure you know all the rules and limitations on teen driving in the state, so your teen can enjoy their new car within the law. Once your teen has proven themselves, you can begin to enjoy not having to chauffeur them everywhere.