It seems like only yesterday that your son or daughter was taking his or her first steps and now they’re ready to operate a motor vehicle. It’s not uncommon for a certain trepidation to overcome parents whose children are eager to gain their independence.
Furthermore, while your teenager tries to and anticipate getting their first car, you have to come to the realization of finding the safest, most reliable, and cost efficient vehicle to put them in.
This is no easy task since teen drivers are more likely to get into a car accident. Which is why insurance companies have no problem jacking up the rates to cover young drivers.
The first thing parents should address is whether or not their child needs a car. Just because your child has passed driver’s ed and got their license, or even if all their friends have a car, that doesn’t necessarily mean they need one at the age of 16.
Consider your family’s circumstance before adding another vehicle to the household.
If you live in an urban area, it might be cheaper for your child to continue relying on public transportation, or if your child needs a car only on occasion, ensuring them to drive the family vehicle might be a better option.
You can also ask your teen to contribute a certain amount to the ongoing costs of maintaining a car. This will help them appreciate the financial trade since they too will be forced to cut back on their spending habits.
This in itself can also be a useful lesson in managing money.
To help you out, here are some things parents should consider when narrowing down their list of potential cars for their child.
Read Below the Sticker Price
Finance. A rule of thumb to keep in mind: if you’re taking out a loan to pay for your child’s car, the payment shouldn’t be more than 20 percent of your take-home pay. If that means giving up going out for dinner once a week or getting coffee from the office instead of Starbucks, that’s fine as long as you know that it’s a concrete step you’re willing to make in order for your child to have a car. If for some reason you’re on a strict budget, you might want to spend even less. Used vehicles, in particular, will always need a little extra attention: new tires, tune ups, and other maintenance issues alike. Then there are expenses that shoppers don’t account for like gas, and insurance.
As a final point, when buying a used vehicle, make sure you set aside a little extra for the warranty. It might be a good idea to set aside a “just-in-case” fund to cover any unexpected repairs on the car. When it comes to a vehicle protecting your child, spending the extra thousand just might save their life should they ever get into a car wreck.
Inspect the vehicle for your child. Before buying a vehicle for your child, there are a few basic things you can check, even if you know nothing about the car. You can run a basic visual check and frame inspection on your own. Looking for dents, knocks, and other damages around the car. But even if the car doesn’t seem like anything is wrong with it, you will still need a mechanic to take a look under the hood and run some basic test.
Even if the seller guarantees no mechanical defects or major issues with the car, you should verify that the car is in good shape with a thorough inspection. After all, the seller is getting rid of the vehicle for a reason.
Odor check: When you first open the door and begin looking around, do a quick sniff test. This might sound funny at first, but if it smells like mold, must, or mildew that could indicate a water leak or worse, a flood damage from possibly taking resident in states prone to high water levels.
Take your child’s car for a test drive. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself the safest person on the road, perhaps the most important thing for any buyer to do before agreeing to buy a used car – is seeing how the car actually drives. It’s always a good idea to try and test the vehicle in different situations. For instance, try driving it on a highway, up against a hill, or down a hill, and on flat land. On local roads, in particular, you can get a better feel for the vehicle’s transmission system by listening to the gears shift while at the same time, seeing how the car responds to sharp turns. With a trip on the highway, you can note if the engine runs smoothly or not.
You’ll also get a good feel of the brakes by conducting a stop-and-go motion. In other words, you’ll have a better understanding of the car’s brake performance when approaching a “Stop” sign, or red lights. If anything seems off or makes you feel uneasy, don’t be afraid to walk away. Remember, while on a test drive, keeps your eyes and ears open. Pay attention to unusual noises, and take note of any electrical problems that your child might not recognize.
Don’t rely on your child to conduct research. When a child knows their parents are searching for a vehicle for them, the world is endless. They’ll find the most extravagant, expensive, and at times, outright most jaw-dropping vehicles you could purchase. The reality is, the child only sees the vehicle and focus more on their image. To emphasize, children never consider the precautions.
Never, ever walk into a dealership “just to look around.” To a dealer, this is like a sheep walking into a crowd of hungry wolves – they don’t even see the person; all they see is a sale. Most small and midsize dealerships will have online inventories for potential buyers. Check those sites out in advance and start looking up the models you’re interested in. Once you’ve found the one that catches your attention, read up on it. To put it another way, go through car sites, click on the forums posted by owners, get the specs and find out what users thought of the vehicle as a whole.
If you were back in school, you’d do the same amount of research for a William Shakespeare book report anyway. Right? That being said, you can do the same legwork for a multi-thousand dollar purchase you’re going to entrust your child’s life in every time they leave the house to go to school, work, or when making a quick run to the grocery store for you. Whatever you do, the point is to come in with a mental list; do not let the dealers steer you outside of that list of vehicles you’re not familiar with.
Key things to keep in mind:
- Features you need vs. you want.
- Depreciation rate, insurance, average miles per gallon.
Reduce technological distractions. If you have a teenager, you know the importance of his or her phone. It’s always in their hands, and they’re almost always texting someone. But things get even more frightening once your teen starts driving. As the parent, that’s when you want the phone as far away from them as possible. Making that happen, however, can prove to be a challenge.
It’s not easy to give your teen advice about this, especially when they think the world is against them. Whatever the case maybe, put aside your differences and talk to them. These tips will help you start the discussion and make sure the advice sticks.
Using Parental Controls on Your Kids Devices
- Set rules with consequences
- Know the laws in your state and make sure your child knows them too.
- Get an app that prevents them from using their phone when near the vehicle.
- Be a role model
- Try scaring them
- Watch when you call or text them
Thanks for the read. Did I miss anything? What are some other things potential buyers should consider before purchasing a car? I’ll be checking for comments, so feel free to express your opinion.