May 29

Considerations When Choosing a Car for Your Teen Driver- How To Guide

female driver

Earning the right to drive, passing your driving test, and being granted your driver’s license is a rite of passage. This developmental milestone provides a source of pride for new drivers and can be rewarding for parents to witness. When your teen driver is ready to brave the road legally and alone, you want to ensure they are as safe as possible. A dependable vehicle can help provide you with peace of mind and support the inexperienced driver in your family in building the confidence they need to be on the road alone. 

It is beneficial to be armed with quality information before selecting a vehicle for your teen driver and their specific lifestyle. Keep in mind the following considerations when choosing a car for your teen driver. 

Safety

Safety is probably the top priority when considering a vehicle for your teen driver. Whether they have years of experience under your tutelage, have just completed a driver’s education course, or are ready to level up into a different vehicle, you want them safe. Newer vehicles typically have better safety features, such as accident avoidance systems which provide a visual or audio warning if an object enters the current path, brake assistance with smart brakes to help inexperienced drivers avoid accidents, and even forward-collision warnings to alert drivers with enough time to avoid a possible fender bender. 

Newer vehicles also have better crash protection, which may factor into your decision if you lean towards a more recent model. You can also take into consideration a vehicle’s safety rating, which is a score assigned to vehicles by a safety research group after a thorough test. Some models boast a five-star safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is a group that shows the safest makes and models. 

Affordability

Affordability may also be a factor that influences your decision. You’ll likely seek to model good buying practices and use this purchase, probably the first major purchase your teen will experience, as an opportunity to show your teen driver how to invest money wisely and make big-ticket purchases conservatively. Sit down with him or her to consider all your available options and discuss their needs for a daily vehicle and how they will contribute financially.

Although some may not work because of educational responsibilities or other factors, they can help lessen the economic burden by learning how to do regular maintenance, such as oil changes. When considering how much you, and maybe your teen, will invest in this purchase, evaluate the following: 

  • Will buying pre-owned or new be best for your budget and lifestyle?
  • Will you use a car loan to finance?
  • Will the primary driver, your teen, be helping to meet monthly payments?
  • Will your teen help with regular maintenance costs and gas?
  • Is this a necessary purchase or do you already own a vehicle that fits your other criteria that your teen can share or take over? 
  • How much will it be to insure your teen as a driver on this vehicle?

You’ll want to assess the total cost of ownership, or TCO, to determine the vehicle’s initial worth and its total value over a longer time. The TCO is important because it can help you make an informed decision when selecting a proper vehicle and considering alternatives. 

Size of Vehicle

Teens have a lot of needs and often require a lot of space. However, when choosing a car, truck, or SUV for your teen, you’ll want to think about whether their needs align with the size of vehicle you are considering. A larger vehicle may be harder to turn and park for a new driver when compared to a smaller vehicle. Larger cars also require more gas to operate than a small vehicle that has a smaller tank and engine. However, bigger vehicles typically protect drivers better when an accident occurs and often outperform smaller, more compact cars on safety tests. 

Sports cars are usually involved in more accidents because they are easy to handle and can reach higher speeds, while larger vehicles such as SUVs can be a source of distraction when there are many passengers. The overall lifestyle your family leads and your teen’s individual situation, needs, and maturity level will all help you determine the appropriate size of vehicle for your teen driver. 

Insurance

No matter their temperament, maturity level, or prior driving history, a teen driver is more expensive to include on an automotive insurance policy because of their age. You can add them onto a policy you already have, or they can have their own. It may be more financially beneficial to add them to your existing policy, as many companies offer discounts for multiple drivers within a household. Also, because you already have an established record with your agency, it may be easier to add an individual. 

Some insurers offer discounts for high school students who produce good grades in school, as a positive academic record speaks to an individual’s responsible character. Agencies sometimes also offer discounted rates to drivers who have completed safety courses and can produce a certificate of completion or other document verifying their participation and completion of the safety training. 

Whether your teen driver is looking for speed, style, or technological features, you’ll want to help guide their decision to a vehicle that fits their current needs as a new driver. They will have plenty of time later in life to consider other features or add customizations that express their individual personality traits. A teen driver needs a dependable vehicle to help gain confidence behind the wheel safely. Contact us at Huffines Kia Corinth with your questions about new or used vehicles, maintenance and repairs, or customizations. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are ready to help you out. 

Let us know what you think of our list of tips. Is there something we missed? Leave a message, drop a line, or stop by and tell us. We’ll add it to our list. 

Image via Flickr by State Farm


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