A smart new car purchase requires ample researching as well as several test drive appointments. The vehicle that you take home will likely be a part of your daily life for several years or more, providing you with safe and reliable transportation. It also plays a considerable role on your budget over the years in various ways. As important as it is to find a great vehicle for you to take home, the magnitude of your buying decision increases when you are buying your teen’s first car. When the time comes to make this important purchase for your teen, you may find yourself uncertain about which vehicle is a smart option. Use these guidelines to help you select the right vehicle for a teenage driver.

Exceptional Safety Features

Today’s vehicles are loaded with safety features, so you have ample opportunity to find a quality vehicle that is designed with safety in mind. Some vehicles even have teen driver safety features. For example, they limit the speed of the vehicle and assist with safety in other important ways. Be aware that the actual safety capabilities on the road vary regardless of how innovative the features are. Rather than only comparing safety features, spend time reviewing safety test ratings as well.

Affordable Cost of Ownership

Your teen likely has a dream list of vehicles that he or she would prefer to have, but teens often lack the forethought to think about cost of ownership. The vehicle that your teen drives should be appealing from an aesthetic standpoint. After all, this is a car that he or she may drive through college. The cost of ownership is a critical factor because of how tight finances may be for many college students. Focus on factors related to fuel economy and general expenses for repairs and maintenance. The cost of ownership also relates to the vehicle’s ability to retain its value over the years. If you finance the vehicle, the loan terms and monthly payment also affect the cost to own and drive the vehicle. One final factor that you should not overlook is the cost of auto insurance. Car insurance for teen drivers can be expensive, and the vehicle that you select directly affects insurance rates. Request a few auto insurance quotes on different vehicles so that you select a model that is affordable to insure.

Great Condition Overall

If you intend to purchase a pre-owned vehicle for a teen driver, the vehicle’s great condition is paramount. A late-model used vehicle may still be under a manufacturer’s warranty. Because the vehicle is newer, many of the parts and components may not need to be replaced soon. Regardless of the vehicle’s age and warranty status, get an inspection from an independent mechanic. While repair and maintenance costs are a concern, you also do not want your teen driver to deal with breakdowns on the side of the road.


Teens may be most concerned about the look of their new car and about how exceptional the driving experience is. Through your own experiences on the road, you understand how important passenger seating, cargo space and other factors are. When you test drive a few vehicles, look at them from a practical or functional perspective. Ask yourself if this is a car that can be useful throughout a teen’s college years. For example, is there enough cargo space to accommodate all of your teen’s personal effects when he or she is moving in and out of dorm rooms each summer? Otherwise, does the vehicle have the capability to tow a small trailer behind it?

Selecting a new vehicle for your teen to driver is an important step that can have a bearing on his or her life throughout the rest of the high school years and even through college. You can see that this decision is paramount to many aspects of life. Rather than making a hasty decision, spend ample time researching the options. You may even need to wait a few weeks or longer for the right car to be listed on the market. By taking your time and thoroughly researching all options, you can make a purchase that you feel confident about and that your teen driver will love.

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