Let’s face it- buying your teen’s first car can be a terrifying thing to think about. It’s completely natural for you to feel a bit nervous over the thought of your child hitting the roadways. But with a little planning and open communication, you may just find the experience a bit less harrowing than you might think. Today we’ve gathered five things for you to consider when buying your teen’s first car to help you figure out the best way to keep your child safe out on the open road.
Almost every teen wants a flashy ride. You, however, want something safe. The important thing to remember here is that your child’s first car is a privilege, not a right, and that you get the final say in what they end up with. Check out the government crash test data on cars to get an idea for how well different makes and models perform, and shop around to get an idea for insurance rates. Safer rides will have lower costs, and asking your teen to help pay for part of them may reinforce that message while dissuading them from their desire for dangerous, sportier cars.
Share the Bill
The costs that your teen will pay for their new ride can have a profound impact on how they treat it. You may want to consider asking your child to pay for gas or part of the purchase price in addition to the insurance to help teach about car ownership. Typically, teenagers who have to give something financially back to their cars become much more invested in the care and maintenance of them. This can help reinforce the idea of responsible driving as well, something we’ll cover in more detail further below.
There are many devices currently on the market that allow you to track your teen’s driving and send you text or email alerts when a vehicle speeds or travels outside preset boundaries. Some of these devices can even be used to block incoming calls and text messages, functions incredibly useful for lowering a teen’s risk while driving. However, you’ll want to make sure your child is fully aware of the device and why you want to use it, or you risk giving them the impression that you don’t trust them to be safe.
A Matter of Trust
When you give your teen their first car, you’re placing an enormous amount of trust and faith in their ability to act maturely and make good decisions. While this is often a nerve-wracking thought, remember that you wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) give them a vehicle if you didn’t trust them to begin with. Be sure to emphasize this, and make sure that they understand that their decisions on the road affect not only your family but other families as well. You may even consider a ‘rules of the road’ contract for your teens to sign where they agree to safety rules and penalties for breaking them.
Old vs. New
It used to be that buying used meant saving money, but that’s not always the case these days as used car prices continue to rise. A good idea before heading straight for the local used dealership is to browse the web to compare prices first. You can find tons of new cars on kbb.com, browse reviews and guides concerning value, and then compare the final costs. New might mean a tad more expensive up front, but new also means advanced safety features, lower repair costs, and even possibly cheaper insurance. Plus, you won’t have to worry about a new car’s history with their previous owner.
When the terrifying time comes and your teen is behind the wheel, it’s important to remember how exciting this all is for your whole family. It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone. While the advice from our list is a great start, don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends and ask how they prepared for their teen’s first car. With enough preparation and good communication, this may be one of the most exciting moments of your teen’s life, and sharing that moment is a memory you’ll keep for years to come!
Photo © Jarenwicklund