How should you choose the best car for your new teen driver?

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Answered by: Stephen, An Expert in the Buying Guide Category
So your son or daughter has finally gotten their driver's license, an event that raises multiple questions that need answers! One of these is what car will they drive. Now for some, mom or dad gets the new car and the kid gets the old family hand-me-down. But for many it becomes time to look for something teen-oriented, a daunting task. So where do you start, and what do you need to consider when choosing a car for your child? There are 3 main categories you'll need to consider: safety, practicality, and affordability.

Your main concern is the safety of your new teen driver! A rear wheel drive, 300 horsepower, convertible sports car may not be the best choice for a testosterone riddled 16 year old boy. But what kid wants to drive a "grandma" Volvo? Now many will say a Volvo is your best choice for safety...but the make of the car is not the biggest factor to consider when it comes to safety. Rule number one: Stay away from SUV's! They have a high center of gravity (making them more inclined to roll-over in accidents), slow response time in emergency avoidance maneuvers, and reduced braking performance. What you need to look for is something with 4 doors, good agility ratings, and good crash test ratings.

Stay practical! Your teen doesn't need a $30,000 car that is going to cost more to insure than the amount of the car payment, a 2-seat car, or a pick-up that gets 14 miles per gallon. Keep in mind that a new teen driver will love almost any car that they get! It gives them transportation, freedom, a social life, and a little taste of adulthood. They want to be able to have a couple of friends in the backseat...or maybe you want to have a backseat so you can go everywhere they go! A 6 or 7 year old 4 door sedan is very frequently a good choice. They are inexpensive to insure, many have exceptional safety ratings, and almost all get 24+ miles per gallon.

Last but not least, pick your price range and stick with it. Keep in mind that you are paying for more than the price of the vehicle. There could be repair costs, insurance, and dealership fees as well. Frequently you will get the most bang-for-your-buck if you purchase a used vehicle from a private seller. There are many repair shops that will thoroughly inspect the vehicle before you buy for a very reasonable amount of money. Gas mileage and the cost to ensure the vehicle are very pertinent factors as well. Call your insurance provider and have them run an estimate for your new teen driver being added to your policy BEFORE you purchase the car. Nobody likes surprises. You can go check out the gas mileage of the vehicle on Cost of ownership on a vehicle can really add up.

So when choosing a car for your new teen driver, keep safety, practicality, and affordability at the forefront of your mind. Don't be intimidated by the choices to be made. Its an exciting time to watch your child mature. Who knows, you may even involve them in the shopping process.

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