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Should You Buy Your Teen Their First Car? – Collaboration

If your teen has been working hard, studying for their permit and driving test, and getting excited for the freedom of getting behind the wheel, it’s likely they also want a car. 

If you try to share a car with your teen, it can turn into a logistical nightmare. Your teen may want the car when you need it, and there can be a lot of juggling. 

So, should you buy your teen’s first car, and what should you know about making the decision?

Would It Benefit Your Household?

Buying a car is a big financial commitment and decision, so it’s a good idea to think about whether or not your teen really needs a car and how it would help the entire household.

For example, if your teen could start taking younger siblings to their activities and take some of the burden off you, or could make your life easier by having their own car, it might be worth it.

Think about the places your teen regularly goes and how they get there, and what other people in your family might benefit from as you’re deciding whether or not to get a car. 

If you live in an urban area, it might not be worth it to buy a car, if public transportation is available. 

Also, if your teen doesn’t have a job and doesn’t have places they need to go that often, it may be better to have them drive a family car. 

Could Your Teen Contribute to the Costs?

There are a lot of upfront but also ongoing costs associated with buying a car. Would your teen be able to work and contribute to them?

For example, maybe you buy a used car with cash or you get a loan and make the payments, but perhaps your teen is then responsible for insurance and gas. 

Before you commit to buying your teen a car, they need to be clear on what your expectations will be for them financially and otherwise. 

Your teen will also have to consider maintenance costs, parking costs, and other upkeep costs. 

Safety

When we think about buying a teenage driver a car, we might only be considering used clunkers. This isn’t inherently a bad idea because teens can put a lot of wear and tear on a vehicle, but there is something to be said for a newer car as well.

If you buy your teen a newer car, yes, it may be more expensive but it’s probably also going to come equipped with a lot more safety features. Even entry-level newer cars have pretty advanced safety features built-in such as collision warning systems, adaptive cruise control with automatic braking and blind-spot monitoring.

If you’re able to swing it, the difference in cost could more than pay for itself in terms of peace of mind. 

Ford and Chevrolet actually offer teen driver features that are linked to a designated key fob. For example, the cars will automatically mute the audio when anyone in the front seat isn’t wearing their seatbelt. There are also system features that will provide warnings when a vehicle is going above speeds predetermined with parental controls. 

While you might not be able to afford a brand new car with all the latest and best safety features it can be a good idea to look for one that at least has a front crash avoidance system. 

What About the Reasons Not to Buy Your Kid a Car?

There are some great reasons to buy your teen a car if it’s feasible for your family, but there are some downsides to consider as well.

First, are you thinking about getting your teen a car just because they want one? This can show teens that life is all about instant gratification, but it’s not, of course. You might want to wait and have your teen prove their responsibility and perhaps save up to contribute financially to a car first. 

It’s tough to teach your kid the value of money if you make such a big purchase for them without them having to work or earn it. 

If you have your teen save up for their own car, or at least make the payments on it, it’s one of the best lessons as far as the value of money and work, and how to set and attain goals. 

Whether or not to buy your teen a car is a family decision, and there are pros and cons on both sides of the debate that ultimately only your family can decide on.