When the realisation that your son or daughter needs a car, the first thing you’re likely to think (apart from ‘sweet Jesus, where did those seventeen years go?’) is how they’re going to convince their kids to drive what is essentially a mobile pram on wheels. The last thing you want is them speeding around in a built-for-speed death trap, after all. But how should you go about choosing the right car? Well, we’ve joined forces with Compare the Market to bring you these tips to help:
Go pre-owned. Whilst your child might be prepared to beg on bended knee for a brand new car, it doesn’t actually make much financial sense for you to buy one. It is a simple fact that first time drivers are far more likely to have the odd scrape, or end up needing a new clutch within six months. It’s not their fault, they’re just simply not very good drivers: and nor were you when you first got going! Buying pre-owned from a certified dealer means that you can still buy with peace of mind, despite not breaking the bank. It will also mean you shouldn’t lose quite as much in depreciation costs when the car eventually gets sold on.
Safety first. Needless to say, it’s important to make sure that a teenager’s first car is one with a proven record of being safe. Safety and crash-test info can be obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It’s also worth heading online to scope out reviews from other drivers who’ve owned the car. Remember: newer cars are more likely to have features such as anti-lock brakes and stability controls.
Don’t go too big (or too small). The best sized car for a teenage driver is a mid-sized sedan. Whilst it’s not a good idea to let them get behind the wheel of a big saloon such as a BMW (cars like this are usually just too much power for first-time drivers to handle), you don’t want them to have too small a car either, as they don’t offer as much durability in the rare event of an accident. A five-door, four seat sedan will usually offer the best overall protection –make sure you look for one with both airbags and a good crash test rating.
Consider the maintenance costs. Running a car isn’t the cheapest activity, and it’s no surprise that young teenagers still have to dip into the bank of mum and dad here and there in order to stay on the road. Because of this, it makes a lot of sense to add up how much a car will cost to run month-on-month when insurance, petrol and repairs are taken into account. You might be tempted to choose one car over another because it’s $100 cheaper, but if it costs $70 per month more to run, then you’ll actually be worse off in the long run.
Take your time. Buying a car is a big decision, and it’s not one that should ever be rushed. Don’t just go for the first car you see that looks OK – take the time to do as much research you feel is necessary, and keep looking until you find that ideal car. And yes, you should give them a bit of a say: it needs to be comfortable for them to drive at the very least!