Taking the big, scary first step in teaching your teenager how to drive can be an emotional roller coaster for many parents. The even bigger, scarier second step is deciding on a car for this brand new driver. Do you give up one of your own cars to the distracted newbie driver? Do you buy something cheap yet brand new just so your kid will quit bothering you? Do you search for the trashiest clunker a few thousand dollars can buy?
The first step is to consider what you may already have. If your driveway is currently being occupied by an old piece of junk car that means very little to you, that may just be the answer. Let’s face it, your new driver will very likely be more interested in playing great music for their friends than in obeying the rules of the road, so the car isn’t likely to last long anyway. However, if all you have to offer is your own car, it may be best to search for something more appropriate.
One thing to consider is involving your child in saving money for the car. When you save money for some item as a kid, you feel like you are officially taking ownership of the item once you buy it with that hard-earned money. Offering to help match their contribution will take some of the weight off their shoulders, because saving for a car’s down payment can be a huge deal if they are not used to saving. By taking part in the process of buying the car, your teen will feel like they truly own the car and will be much more likely to take care of it. Knowing the hard work and time it took to save up that amount will stay with them in the long run.
When looking for a “new” car for your teen, you should always take used cars into consideration first. Buying a brand new car just because you feel they deserve it may end up coming back to bite you later on. That new car you’re paying for just might end up wrapped around a telephone pole. Frightening as that image may be, it’s a proven fact that teen drivers are not the best or safest people on the road.
If you do decide on buying a brand new car, keep in mind the fact that the car will depreciate in value as soon as you drive it off the lot. Buying a new car can be a good thing in terms of knowing the exact history of the car (it has none), and having a warranty, but there are many used car lots that sell used cars with very good warranty deals.
Whatever you decide, researching car loans is a good place to start. It’s also important to know what will determine your car loan interest rate.