You’ve now got a teen driver in the family and have decided to add a new car to the household. What’s the best car for a new teen driver? How do you balance safety, practicality and cost?
We’re prepared five tips to get you started.
- List Your Options
Before you even think about heading to a car dealership, it’s important that you understand your options. Sit down with your teenage driver and determine both a reasonable budget and set of non-negotiable features, like airbags. Once you’ve done this, follow car expert and blogger Alex Perdikis’ best buying practices by comparing brands locally that fit your needs, as prices can vary by region. You can do this with a quick Google search or by using smart phone price comparison apps.
- Choose Function Over Form
Most teenagers are going to want the type of car they can show off to their friends. But while a tiny sports car with a cute sunroof might score them points in the schoolyard, it’s not an ideal choice for a first car. With motor vehicle crashes being the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., you want to choose a mid-size car with good visibility and a low center of gravity. This makes it less likely that the car will roll in the event of a crash. Speaking of safety…
- Make Safety Your First Priority
Choosing a mid-size car is a good start, but not the only safety consideration you need to make. For optimum safety, look for vehicles that sport more than just the two required front airbags and don’t compromise on fewer than six. Studies have shown that side airbags can be the difference between life and death in side-impact collisions, which account for a growing amount of accidents in the U.S.
- Do a Background Check
Research is a huge part of picking the right first car for your teen. If you’re going the used-car route, use an online or local service to do a background check on the vehicle. Not only will this red-flag a vehicle that’s been involved in illegal activities, but it can often also tell you whether the car has been in an accident. As these reports aren’t totally foolproof, you should also take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic to ensure it’s in good condition before you even consider opening your wallet.
- Set Ground Rules for Your Teen
It doesn’t matter whether you buy the safest car on the market if your teenager isn’t prepared to drive responsibly.
To keep your child safe and avoid totaling your purchase, sit down with your teen and make some ground rules. For example, some parents don’t allow their kids to drive during snowy or stormy weather until they’ve gained some road experience. Others impose a rule on how many friends can hitch a ride at once, as passengers can be a significant distraction to the driver. Tell your teens that these rules aren’t meant to punish them, but to protect them and others. Some rules can be gradually stripped back as the young drivers gain more experience on the road.
Buying the right first car for your teenager can be a challenge. But by following these tips, focusing on safety and keeping an open dialogue with your young driver, you’ll find the perfect vehicle in no time.