Friday, June 10, 2016

The insider's guide to buying a car for teenage drivers

The number of US parents footing the bill for their child's first car has increased in recent years, according to a 2012 study by Autotrader. In the survey of parents with children of driving age, 41 percent say that they have opted to buy their child's first car.For many, the motivation behind this decision is based on safety. For those just learning to drive, inexperience with busy roads, mechanical malfunctions common in older vehicles and similar vehicular issues can be problematic. However, financing and insurance considerations also play large roles. 

Keeping your teenager safe

Breakdowns and other common mechanical issues can be particularly worrisome to parents of novice drivers. David Nathan, general manager of Gary Rome Kia of Enfield, noted that parents who visit the dealership often express worries that their child will be stranded alone while dealing with a vehicle malfunction. "I have two kids," he added, "and my biggest concern is not their driving ability, but that [their] car is in good working order so that they can get home, especially at nighttime. My biggest fear is breakdown."

New cars can be a good way of insuring against unexpected mechanical errors; however, the right pre-owned car can also provide parents with peace of mind. Parents shopping for used cars should prepare to thoroughly vet these vehicles through a background check to learn about the car's history and any past accidents. Another helpful resource is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which rates vehicles according to crash test performance.

Financing options

While many older drivers will remember months spent slowly scrounging up enough money to buy their own car, modern parents concerned with safety may want to consider buying their child's vehicle instead. More often than not, a parent's financial stability allows them to provide their child with a much safer vehicle than the child would be able to purchase on their own. However, this doesn't mean that you can't still shop around for a good deal. Websites like and Kelley Blue Book are excellent resources for anyone trying to ensure that they receive a great value for a used car.

Insurance costs

Another aspect of vehicle purchasing to take into account, especially when new drivers are concerned, is the high cost of car insurance. "Insurance for teens can go through the roof," Nathan explained. "Parents should buy a car under their name and list [their] child as a driver, not as a primary owner of the car." Most insurance agencies will also reduce the cost of insurance if a teen driver has taken formal driver's education courses. There are also reductions for young drivers who perform well academically. 

Making your purchase

As any experienced driver knows, the car-buying process can be complex. Adding an eager teen to the mix can only make things more complicated. "Many kids can't wait to have their first car. They see something they want, and they're not apt to make a comparison [and] go look at other cars," Nathan stated. When parents visit his dealership, he noted, "more than 50 percent of the time, the parents are doing the legwork [first] ... and when the parents have made their decision, that's when they get their children involved." 

While parents can't make the roads any safer, taking the reins on the purchasing decision allows parents more peace of mind when their new driver gets behind the wheel.

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