How to Choose the Best Car for Your Teenager

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In many places, teenagers need a car to get around and get to school. So, once they have their license, it is time to find an appropriate vehicle for them to drive. Shopping for a car can be plenty stressful by itself, but when you add in a picky teenager, the task may seem impossible.

Whether you are buying a new car or a used one, there are a number of important factors to consider before making a purchase. By being thorough and patient, you can get your teenager on the road in a safe car without breaking the bank.

Part 1 of 1: Choosing a car

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Step 1: Make a budget. There are a lot of extra costs to consider when budgeting for your teenager’s first car.

Make sure that you budget properly, then, so you will know exactly how much money can go towards the actual car. Car insurance can cost a lot more for a teenager than it does for an adult. Adding a teenager onto another existing car insurance policy is almost always cheaper than taking out a policy just for them.

Teens are much more prone to accidents than adults, and it is wise to budget for a small fender-bender sometime in their first year driving.

Step 2: Talk with your teen. This step seems obvious, but it is easily one of the most important parts of the whole process.

They have to be aware of what is a practical fit for your family’s needs. Ask your teenager, what would they use this car for? Do they just need a safe vehicle from point A to point B, or will they be transporting other passengers or cargo on a regular basis?

Inevitably, your teenager may have their hearts set on sports cars and pickup trucks, so this conversation should be an opportunity to show them all types of cars on the market and how great some affordable options can be.

Whether your child has been driving for months or years, driving is still relatively new to them. No matter how responsible of a driver you know they may be, make it clear that models with low safety ratings will be ruled out of consideration.

Finally, talk about the future. If your child is going into a trade or into construction, it may be advantageous to look for a truck rather than a car for a first vehicle.

Step 3: Start your search online. Go online and search for pictures, articles, and reviews about vehicle models online.

Start with the big name brands first to get the ball rolling, and then begin to compare options of any other car manufacturers your teen may be interested in. This is also a good time to choose between a used and a new car. Used cars offer the most value for your money, while new cars suffer from fewer issues.

You’ll want to search for pictures and reviews posted by real-life, authentic drivers, so don’t be afraid to delve a couple pages into Google’s search to compare the opinions on different websites.

Step 4: Decide on the type of transmission. Transmissions come in two arrangements: automatic and manual.

Automatic transmissions are easier to learn and more forgiving than manual transmissions, thus they are recommended for beginner drivers. Manual transmissions require more skill to use, and learning to drive a vehicle with one is a useful skill to have.

Step 5: Decide on a car to purchase. Utilizing various websites or local classified ads to find cars, you need to narrow down the possible choices for your teen.

For a first car, it is a good idea to go with a compact car, a family sedan, or a small SUV. Here is a table comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

car advantages table

Avoid large trucks and SUVs for first-time drivers, as they have larger blind spots and are less intuitive to drive and park. Sports cars require a more experienced driver to properly handle and may lead a teenager to drive irresponsibly.

  • Note: Comparing crash test rating between specific models is always more accurate than basing the decision on the size of the car.

Step 6: Shop for a car at a physical car lot. By going to a new or used car lot to check out the cars you decided on when searching online, you can get a better feel for the car.

You will not only be able to test drive the cars in question, but you will be able to get a better feel for the differences between the models.

Step 7: Purchase the car you and your teen agree on. Weigh all of the above options, and purchase the car that is best for your situation.

Once all is said and done, your child will have a mode of transportation all their own and you will have peace of mind knowing that you followed the right steps throughout the process and ended up with a car that satisfies your requirements for both safety and practicality. Before you buy, be sure to have one of YourMechanic’s certified technicians perform a pre-purchase car inspection.


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Raymond

36 years of experience
155 reviews
Raymond
36 years of experience
Ford Explorer - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Las Vegas, Nevada
Very happy with the pre-inspection service. He was in contact from when he left to when he arrived at dealership to a FULL Sheet of info right after the inspection. Raymond helped make me feel at ease buying the car after having his professional opinion that everything was good. The one thing he did recommend I mentioned to the dealership and they took care of it before I even bought the car. :) Thanks so much for your expertise. I would definitely use this website again for any future services I may need.
Subaru Baja - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Las Vegas, Nevada
Raymond was early, Very Professional, & very thorough. Answered all my questions and was very informative. Did an Excellent job !

David

12 years of experience
287 reviews
David
12 years of experience
Honda CR-V - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Marietta, Georgia
Prompt and knowledgeable. David arrived early to do our pre-purchase car inspection and completed it in a timely fashion. He communicated his findings, recommendations by phone and text message, which was nice. I appreciated the information and details he provided.
Mercedes-Benz E400 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Kennesaw, Georgia
David called when he arrived and called shortly after he finished inspecting the vehicle. Unfortunately, due to the inefficiency of the sales representative at the dealership, David was not able to drive the vehicle as the final phase of the inspection.

Sean

16 years of experience
67 reviews
Sean
16 years of experience
Honda Fit - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Falls Church, Virginia
I'm grateful for Sean's inspection of this car and the photos of the damage I couldn't see. Saved me from making a poor purchase!
Nissan Murano - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Alexandria, Virginia
Sean was very thorough in carrying out a prepurchase inspection on a used car and patiently walked me through all his findings. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and answered all my questions. I was very happy with his service and will request him in the future.

Benji

21 years of experience
99 reviews
Benji
21 years of experience
Ford Thunderbird - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Phoenix, Arizona
This is the second time this week that Benji has inspected a car for me before purchase. His reports are clear and thorough, saving me a lot of money from buying a lemon. He is dependable and honest. Even after the inspections, I kept contacting him with question after question. He answers them all and even sends me additional information. I totally recommend him!
Ford Thunderbird - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Mesa, Arizona
Benji went through a flooding situation to inspect my car. His inspection was thorough and professional. I emailed him numerous times, and he answered each and every one of them. He even has a good sense of humor. Thanks to his hard work and thorough inspection, I was saved from buying a potential lemon. Thanks, Benji.

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