As a parent, giving your teenager the keys to the car can be a frightening moment. Teens are only 7% of the US population, but they accounted for 11% of the motor vehicle injury costs in 2013.
That’s why it’s essential to get your teen the best first car you can. They need all the help they can get on the road, especially while they’re still getting the hang of driving without supervision.
Here at Auto-Facts, we’re dedicated to giving you the best car advice on the internet. Here are some of the steps you should take while purchasing a car for your child, as well as some suggestions to get you started.
Safety Over Style
When your kid gets their driver’s license, they’ll likely want the nicest looking car to impress all of their friends. If you can afford it, great, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best first car you can get.
A lot of the time, the safest cars might not grab the eye like nicer ones. If you’re looking at used cars, your teen might be interested in a classic fixer-upper instead. Resist the temptation to give your son or daughter everything they want. Prioritize a car that will keep them safe over a car that will fulfill their wildest dreams.
Get Them to Put Down the Phone
Teenagers make up the largest percentage of distracted drivers. Over 50% of teenagers admit that they’ve texted or called while driving a car.
It’s hard to make a teenager understand the dangers of texting and driving. At that age, they think they’re invincible and that nothing bad is going to happen to them. As we know, the reality is much different, but there are steps you can take while buying a car to get them to put their phone away.
Prioritize a car with Bluetooth capabilities, so they’re not fighting with their phone when they want to change the music. If you can find a car with a voice-to-text feature, even better! Try to do everything in your power to take the phone out of your teenager’s hands while they’re driving.
A built-in navigation system can be helpful as well. That way, they won’t have to use their phone to find out where they’re going. When you’re first starting, it can be hard to find your way around. Teenagers rely on GPS more than anybody, so make sure they can navigate without looking down!
Your teen might be inclined to get the fastest car you can afford. While it’s certainly cool to whip around in a new car, it’s incredibly unsafe. If you get your teen a car with racing powers, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Buying your teen a car with top-notch speed will only encourage them to drive faster, switch lanes, and possibly get into an accident. Even if they don’t hit anything, speeding fines will likely accumulate and hurt their insurance in the long-run.
Just like we said with style, prioritize safety over speed. There’s plenty of time for fast cars when they get a bit older. Teenagers naturally have a hard time understanding the possible consequences of their actions, so take power out of their hands where you can.
A Car That Will Last
While you may think the best first car is a hunk-o-junk that will break down in two years, it probably isn’t. Sure, you may end up saving some money, but you’re also adding some risk to your teen’s driving.
A car that might break down in a few years probably isn’t safe. In fact, you may end up spending more money on repairs through the life of the car than it’s worth.
Additionally, giving your son or daughter a car can lighten the load on them going forward. They’re probably only a couple years away from college, which usually comes with debt that will follow them for decades.
Spend a bit more on a car that will last.
You may not consider rearview cameras, parking assists, and blind spot monitors necessary as an experienced driver, but these elements are extremely valuable for those who are new to the road.
Of course, you should teach your teen to be mindful of these driving strategies without any assists. When you’re looking for a car, though, try to find one with at least a few bonus features attached to it.
A lot of new cars have these features built-in. They’ve been out for a few years, so you may even be able to find a new car with a backup camera or parking assist. These features cost a bit more but can end up saving you thousands in repair costs they avoid.
Best First Car Ideas
With these factors in mind, here are a few suggestions to get you started on your search. Buying a new car can be a massive hassle so that these options will serve as a jumping-off point.
2010 Toyota Prius
It might not be the most attractive option available, but it’s certainly in the category of “best first car.” A used Prius is affordable, safe, reliable, and fuel efficient.
2012 Honda Accord
Another affordable option is the 2012 Honda Accord. These cars are reliable, and a bit easier on the eyes than the Prius is. They’re equipped with a rearview camera and received the best crash rating available.
2015 Toyota Camry
Camrys are one of the most popular first cars on the market for a reason. They’re reliable, fuel efficient, and boast the best crash rating they can. These cars also offer some of the best value you’ll find in a car.
Time to Hit the Road!
Buying a car for your teen can be a massive headache. Car shopping can be a headache to begin with, but when you’re buying for your teen, it adds another complication. It can be tough to balance their expectations with the safest, most reliable option.
Stick to cars that retain their value and keep your teen safe. They can always upgrade once they start making money on their own.
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