Car Shopping With Your Teen Driver: Be Safe and Save

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by on January 16, 2014

Woman buying a new carShopping for a car for a new teenage driver can be a lesson in frustration for both you and your child. While a teen’s main concerns are typically about what color to get and the coolness factor of a vehicle, your concerns are going to be more practical, such as safety and affordability. Car accidents are the leading cause of deaths for teenagers in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and your child is just going to have to understand that safety outweighs his hope for an ultra-cool ride.

Do a Background Check

If you do decide to purchase a used vehicle, obtain a Carfax report and have a mechanic you trust look over the auto. Unfortunately, there are a number of unscrupulous sellers out there who will try to get rid of a vehicle any way they can. Odometer tampering, for example, is on the rise—the Chicago Tribune reports that dishonest sellers and dealers are rolling back odometers with high mileage to much lower numbers, which means that your teen could end up with a vehicle that may have deteriorating or worn out parts.

Safety Ratings

The California Department of Motor Vehicles reports that teens between 16-19 years old have a higher accident rate than any other age group. Take the time to look over the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) top safety picks before settling on a vehicle for your teen.

Know the Insurance Costs

You might think you’ll be saving money by purchasing or handing down a cheap used vehicle to your teen, but there may be hidden expenses that could significantly drive up the costs. It could actually cost you more to insure an older car for your teen than it would to pay for a policy for some newer economy cars. Sports cars and SUVs typically cost more to insure, especially if the vehicle is equipped with a turbo engine or four-wheel drive. So the coverage on a used turbo sports car for your teen could end up being substantially more than the insurance on a newer economy sedan.

When you are getting ready to sign your teenager up for auto insurance, check to see what discounts you can apply to the policy. For example, State Farm offers discounts to students who provide proof of good grades. Teens can also get additional discounts if they agree to join the insurance company’s Drive Safe & Save program.

You can also find a list on the IIHS site that details insurance losses by vehicle make and model. Typically, automobiles that have fewer insurance losses will be cheaper to insure

Avoid Gas Guzzlers

Handing the keys to a gas guzzler to your teenager is a good way to empty your bank account. Most teens are eager to drive everywhere at any time, and consolidating trips is still not a concept that they fully understand. With that in mind, remember to keep gas economy in mind when purchasing a vehicle for your teen.


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