Through with tests, the DMV lines, and a year of being chauffeured around on your teen’s permit, they finally get to flash their official ID license and get behind the wheel on their own. It’s an exciting time for the both of you! No more do you have to think about dropping them off from school or dropping them off at practice, but you do have to consider what their first car is going to be. More than half of teens experience some kind of accident before their out of high school, so you definitely want to pick a cost effective and safe option. We have some points to consider while you’re out shopping with your teen to get them the best choice available!
You’ve crunched the numbers and you’ve come up with a budget you and your teen can begin looking within. Used cars may be tempting for their lower sticker price, but you may want to consider buying a certified pre-owned vehicle, or even a new car for best long-term savings. Both come with warranties that protect your investment, usually for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Pre-owned vehicles also come with a bonus of helpful roadside assistance should anything go awry and you aren’t immediately available to help out. Many of these CPO cars are less than five years old and come from lease deals and undergo extensive maintenance inspection so you can be assured these vehicles still run like new. More recent model year vehicles are offered with the best financing options, and they’re the least likely to have mechanical issues. New vehicles also come with the most recent efficiency technologies and powertrains, lending to plenty of savings for your teen at the gas station too!
You’ll have to consult your teen’s driving comfort with this one. Our technical consultant at recommends that first-time drivers would be best protected in larger vehicles, since their weight and stronger frames lend to better crash resilience. However, these big SUV-type vehicles come with some maneuvering difficulties your teen may not be ready for. Smaller vehicles come with better fuel efficiency ratings, but tend not to rate as high on crash tests. Crossovers or compact SUVs offer a fair middle ground. They’re easier to master despite their larger than normal size, lending to not so difficult parking. Their sedan-similar builds tend to offer very good visibility around the vehicle, and they offer sporty performances that can keep up with a smaller vehicle’s mileage range and efficiency. The extra space is good if you have a more active teen, as well. Art projects, sport equipment, or band instruments are easily packed within the larger cargo spaces of crossovers and compact SUVs.
Most obvious to testify to your chosen vehicle’s safety are the scores it gets from official . The NHTSA uses the famed five-star system, judging front-crash, side-impact, and rollover rating for an overall average. The IIHS, meanwhile, rates vehicle performance on a scale of Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good. Exceptional cars are either named a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+.
Many modern day vehicles also link to your smartphone to display performance details of recent trips; certain vehicles use this technology to supply you with a teen-driver monitoring system that alerts you to your teen’s car’s whereabouts, its speeds reached, and the number of instances of emergency braking, effectively giving you a report card of your teen’s trips. Teen Modes even allow you to set a speed limit on your teen’s car. Other modern conveniences include driver assist technologies. These may seem attractive at first, but it may be advisable to at first forego these aids as they could hinder your teen from gaining driving experience. The biggest weakness of teenage driving is spacial awareness, and if they completely rely on monitoring technology, driver assist features may turn into a crutch that hinder your new driver from accurately judging the size of their vehicle.
Include your teen in the car shopping experience! While it may be tempting to do the car-buying process yourself, your teen can always gain some knowledge on what to look for in a good buy. Take them on the test drive since it’s going to be their car for years to come and advise them on what driving dynamics to pay attention to. Providing mutual feedback on each of your choices will ensure you get a vehicle the both of you are happy with!