The time has arrived at last. Your teenage son or daughter has just passed their driving licence test and every conversation seems to end with “I want a new car!” If you have decided to take the plunge and buy your child their first car, make sure both of you are well-prepared and trained to drive. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it imperative that they are trained properly before being allowed to drive unsupervised on the road. To that effect, keep in mind the following tips.
Make safety a priority
When it comes to newly licensed drivers, lack of experience can lead to distracted driving and accidents that could have been avoided. Either way, safety features are a big priority when buying a first car because they can significantly reduce the risk of injury and damage in case of an accident or an emergency situation. Also, always be sure you are running quality winter tires on your car.
Ensure that at the very least, your first car comes standard with electronic stability control, anti-lock braking systems and traction control. Check for adequate coverage with airbags. Ideally, you should have at least six airbags, covering the front, ides, knees and curtains. Pick a car that has a rating of at least four stars out of five on government crash tests. In addition, go to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website to check for car safety ratings; overall “good” rating is what you should be looking for.
Research car models and insurance rates
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when buying a car is to act impulsively and jump on the first car you see. Make a list of potential cars you are interested in, as well as dealerships in the area. Before you walk into the dealership for a negotiation, arm yourself with as much information as possible. Figure out the invoice price and research into any rebates or incentives currently offered.
Once you have picked a car, don’t forget about insuring it. Depending on whether you pick a car like the Scion tC or the Hyundai Elantra, your insurance premiums can vary wildly. Although your teenagers might try and convince you otherwise, try and stick to a safe sedan rather than a sporty car, as it will inevitably cost more to insure.
Set rules and boundaries about driving
When your teenager earns his or her driving licence, it’s also important to set some rules and boundaries beyond the road laws. Avoid those distressed late night phone calls and staying up worried by setting clear boundaries and expectations before you hand over car keys to your teen. Make sure they know to always notify you when they are taking the car out and avoid speeding. Limit the number of passengers they can have in the vehicle without adult supervision. If they have to speak on the phone, tell them to always pull over first.
Talk to them about your experiences
A great way to bond with your teenager while helping them become a better driver is to narrate your own experiences to them. After years of being an experienced driver, take some time to think back to the days when you were just learning to drive and you will be able to relate to your child a lot better. Use your own anecdotes to emphasize the importance of following rules and driving defensively.
Go driving with them and ask them questions
Before allowing your teenager to cruise around town alone, go on several long and short drives with them to assess their skills and ability to make quick decisions under pressure. While they may have passed their driver’s licence test, lack of experience is still a major factor at play. Avoid assuming your teenager has the common sense and skill of more experienced drivers and try and explain the ins-and-outs of even the most basic maneuvers or laws of the road.
Set a budget before you go shopping
When going shopping for a first car with excited teens around, it is very important to have solid expectations and a strict budget. Avoid letting emotions get into the picture, sticking to the script and being rational in your choice of cars. That sports coupe might look great in your driveway, but do you and your child really want to pay the added maintenance and insurance costs down the line?
Remember that when you are buying a car, you are also buying into monthly insurance payments, gas as well as wear-and-tear and maintenance costs. Have a pile of money set away for emergencies such as a broken timing belt and avoid over-stretching your budget for the best results.
Got any more tips to add to the list? Feel free to comment below or send us a tweet @Unhaggle.