If your oldest child is about to celebrate his or her sixteenth birthday, you may have already had several lengthy discussions with your spouse about the purchase of a new (or used) car as a birthday present for your teen. Even if you've agreed that he or she needs a dedicated vehicle rather than sharing the family car, you may be at a loss when it comes to selecting a specific vehicle. Where should you begin when car shopping for your new teen driver? Read on to learn more about the factors you'll want to consider when making this important decision.
Should you purchase a new or used vehicle?
In some cases, budget constraints may take the "new or used" question off the table, as even the most inexpensive base model new cars hit the lot priced at more than $12,000. However, if you're looking at late-model compact or sub-compact vehicles that tend to hold their value well, you may find that there's not much of a price difference between new and slightly used.
Some advantages of a brand-new vehicle for a teen driver can include additional safety features (like backup cameras or parking assist) and low-cost financing. With interest rates still fairly low, you'll be able to purchase a new vehicle while paying a low teaser rate (compared with the slightly higher rates for certified used or private party vehicles).
However, teen drivers are expensive to insure, and putting your teen in a brand-new car as compared to one that's a few years older may cause your insurance rates to skyrocket. Before picking up the keys for a new car, contact your insurance agent or get an online quote so you'll be prepared for any corresponding increase in your auto insurance premium.
What should you consider when deciding which specific vehicle to purchase?
It may be tempting to completely surprise your teen with a new car in the driveway on his or her birthday morning. However, doing so could backfire if the car you've selected isn't right for your teen's lifestyle or driving habits. If your teen is a social butterfly who is likely to become the chauffeur for his or her peer group, selecting a smaller car can help discourage the transportation of large groups (which can often distract the driver and lead to an accident). On the other hand, if your teen is involved in sports or other activities that often have you toting equipment across town, a station wagon or SUV with storage space may be ideal.
For more information on new or used cars, contact a professional.