Well, it’s finally happened. Your teen has turned “that age” where they start bugging you for a car. They have gone through driver’s ed, gotten their learner’s permit and even managed to get their license. Now the discussions for their own car are happening around the dinner table. If you have older children, you have been around this block before. In that case, you may have this already handled with a family “hand-me-down” car that you already own. However, if this is your first time, here are some things to consider:
Don’t spend a lot of money — it is well-established that drivers aged 18 to 24 are responsible for many accidents. After all, driving is a very new experience for them, and in today’s world, distractions abound, both inside and outside the vehicle. Even if the new driver is merely added to your insurance policy (as opposed to them carrying the insurance in their own name at a much higher cost), you can mitigate the expense by not going in debt for their first car. Save that as a college graduation gift. They will appreciate more by then for sure. Consider spending less than $7500.
Things to consider when choosing that first car. Notice first of all that I said CAR as opposed to truck, minivan, or SUV, all of which will cost more to own, operate and insure than a good 10- to 15-year-old midsize American car. Don’t fall into the “Asian is better” trap. Yes, once a vehicle crosses 100,000 miles and/or 10 years old, the economics change. Yes, the Asian makes have awesome initial quality and will last a long time, but once the original owner trades the car, subsequent owners are saddled with the high expenses of maintenance and systems replacement that will easily and quickly add up into the hundreds of dollars. Here are some of the advantages of a used mid-size American car in good condition:
- Quantity – Seeking out a high-volume model means lower prices and lower mileage. This translates into more value for your money. It also means an abundance of new, rebuilt and used parts so that your cost of ownership will be lower too.
- Ease of repair – A high-volume car means that there is a plentiful body of maintenance and repair knowledge in your community. The more service professionals that are familiar with your make and model car, the lower cost and easier driving it will be.
- Lower insurance costs – High quantity also translates into lower insurance costs since these vehicles will cost less to fix in the event of an accident.
Next Article: My top four midsize American car recommendations for first-time teen drivers.