Your first car is one of the more exciting milestones in a person’s life. For your child, it’s more exciting than their first steps. After all, they don’t remember taking them the way that you do! As a parent, this is one of the most important decisions you can make for your teenage child. Prior to making this life changing purchase for your child, there are six tips you should keep in mind to ensure that you buy a car that’s right for your child.
1. Don’t Skimp on Size
Smaller, compact cars’ size will definitely leave less of a dent on your wallet. Larger, sturdier vehicles tend to be built to last, though. Think of your child’s first car as a fortress. You want it to be fortified; tin cans need not apply. Sure, your teen might want a small, sleek scoot to get them to school and to their after-school job, but what they need might be different. Consider opting for a larger, sturdier vehicle that will keep them safe and get them where they need to go; it might not be as fast as that cute little sports car, but do you really want them going too fast anyway?
2. Focus on Fuel
When it comes to fuel economy, the more miles per gallon the better. Cars with better gas mileage might cost a little more upfront, but they are worth it in the long term. Not only will the car be worth more if your child wants to trade it in down the line, it will also be more affordable to maintain. Your teenager is a teenager. Whether they’re focusing entirely on school or bringing home a little cash from their side job, you don’t want them spending all of their money on fuel. You also don’t want to spend all of your own money on their tank. Selecting a vehicle that is good on gas is good for everyone.
3. Help Them Stay Safe
There is a reason it is expensive to add your child to your insurance policy. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that younger drivers, specifically teen drivers, are three times more likely than their adult counterparts to be involved in a traffic collision. No one wants to think about their child getting into a car accident of any sort, but we have to be proactive and forward thinking for the sake of our kids. Take a look at safety ratings on any car that you consider for your child. Newer models definitely go through more stringent safety tests, but older cars tend to be built with more protective materials (think: big, ugly, safe cars). Be sure to weigh out those pros and cons before you make the purchase.
4. Utilizing Used
Who doesn’t love a new car? The same people who don’t love a car payment. When you buy your child’s first car, keep in mind what is actually the best overall fit. Used cars can give your child a chance to have some nice options at a fraction of the price of a new car. Peruse car auctions, reputable car dealerships, and friends’ social media posts for great finds.
5. Think Long Term
You want to find a happy medium when shopping for your child’s first car. You don’t want it to be too flashy, but you also don’t want them driving a car that is both ugly and worn down to the point where it’ll be in the shop more than on the road. Picking out a car with decent storage will mean it can get them through college. Selecting something with low mileage means more miles with your kid behind the wheel. A car is a serious investment, so it’s best to think ahead.
6. Set Your Budget and Stick to It
You want the world for your child. You also want to be able to pay your bills and maintain a nice quality of life. Remember that your child’s first car probably won’t be their forever car, though long term use should definitely be a consideration. If they prove themselves responsible, and you feel so inclined (and your wallet agrees), you can always buy them an upgrade when they’re older. At this point in their life, they need their parents to be fiscally responsible and set a good example. So, definitely set a budget and then do not go over it – as much as you might want to. Don’t look at cars that are above your budget because you will want them. Instead, look within your price range and find the best fit there. You’ll be glad you did down the road.
Your child’s first car is a huge decision. By following these tips you can rest assured that the car you pick will be the best one possible.