two women sitting on vehicle roofs

Guide To Your Teen’s First Car

Teens often set their sights on a set of wheels that will impress their friends. Though they might be more focused on the sound system, interior and aesthetics of the car, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. When a teen is ready to be taken to the dealership, make sure he or she is aware of the commitment required to buy a car. Take some time to research the details and sit down with the teen to discuss the true responsibility.

The cost of buying a vehicle extends further than the actual selling price. It may be up to the parent or guardian to break down the budget to determine what you can afford. When it comes to expenses, here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Gas
  • Insurance
  • Registration and inspection fees
  • Maintenance
  • Washes

Once the budget is set (with a little wiggle room, of course), you can move on to the more fun details. Start by taking note of the teen’s lifestyle, how often he or she will drive the car and the environment in which it will be driven. As for what kind of vehicle to buy, try to focus less on the model and appearance and more on the other features. These can include:

  • New or used options
  • Safety and security
  • Reliability
  • Overall value
  • Fuel economy
  • Engine, brakes and transmission
  • Vehicle size

Before taking a teen car shopping, especially for the first time, sit down with him or her and explain the expectations of car ownership. Remind the teen of the responsibilities of being on the road, particularly if he or she has never been in a high-stress situation or encountered an instance of road rage. Encourage the teen with short-term goals, such as no traffic violations for a year, and long-term goals, such as helping him or her with a future car payment if accidents are avoided.  

The expectations set on the first-time car owner can follow him or her into adulthood. Focus on the core values of the big decision: safety, responsibility, and respect for his or her property and others on the road. By doing so, you can ensure that buying a car is a worthwhile investment. Learn more about buying a teen’s first car with our accompanying resource.

Infographic created by Capital Auto Auction

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