It seems like just yesterday they were heading off for the first day of school, lovingly prepared lunches tucked away in superhero backpacks, fresh white sneakers squeaking up the stairs as they vanished into their tiny classrooms. Now they’re getting their driver’s licenses and they won’t stop pestering you for a car. They grow up so fast, don’t they? Buying your teen’s first car is a big step for both you and the youngster. This is a time for them to learn maturity and responsibility, and a time for you to learn the right way to buy your kids a car. Keep these 5 tips in mind as you get started.

  1. Buy Used
    Do not even think about buying a new car. There are, quite literally, no benefits at all related in any way to buying new when you get your teen driver his or her first car. Buying new is shaky ground even for experienced drivers. Cars diminish in value over time, and the expenses associated with purchasing a brand new car will never come back to you. As a result of depreciation, the car will be worth about 15% less than you payed for it the second it leaves the lot, and you can expect it to lose an additional 10% of its value every year under normal use. A used car will last just as long and save huge amounts of money.
  2. Keep It Compact
    Don’t go for the biggest car on the lot. Sport utility vehicles, vans, and trucks were all designed for specific purposes; mainly, to haul around a lot of people and/or equipment. These cars are not well suited for young drivers due to their size, cost, and fuel efficiency. A nice compact sedan is the ideal vehicle for a first time driver. They are less expensive, easier to handle and park, and get better gas mileage.
  3. Go for Safety
    One of your top priorities, if not number one, should be safety. You never know what’s going to happen with inexperienced drivers on the road, and you’ll want to account for anything that might come up. Look for anti-lock brakes, reliable seat belts, and as many airbags as possible. These are much more important than luxury items and will keep your teen safe while grant you peace of mind.
  4. Get Insured
    Your teen and his or her car will need to be insured if they are going to be on the road. Insurance is now more than a simple “just in case” policy–in many states it is a law, and driving uninsured can have serious consequences. Check with your current provider and also compare vehicle insurance online to find the best deals. You and your teen can decide on your own who will pay for the insurance.
  5. Sit Down for “The Talk”
    It’s important that your teen realizes what a significant step this is, and appreciates the responsibilities that are attached to driving. Driving a car is dangerous business, and should not be taken lightly. Be sure that your teen understands all of the risks and safety concerns before letting him or her out on the road alone. It has to happen sooner or later, so just make sure it all goes well and everyone will be happy.