Guide to Buying a Vehicle for a Teen 

Purchasing a vehicle for your teenager is arguably less risky than it was a couple of decades ago. Thanks to better inspection and improved certification programs. What’s more, the vehicles are more reliable and better-built too. 

Nevertheless, the process still arouses anxiety over the likelihood of driving home in a lemon. It is even worse when buying a used vehicle for a teenager who just started driving. 

As you venture into the unknown, this guide will help you find the right set of wheels for your teenager. A reliable vehicle will help a teenager hit the road for vacations, driving off to college, and summer jobs. 

Read on to know how to find a safe vehicle for your child without breaking the bank. 

buying car for a teen

Used Cars are Now Safer 

Besides having more choices, they offer more safety features such as electronic stability control, blind-spot, and lane-departure warnings. As well, the used vehicle market offers vehicles with automatic braking. 

Fortunately, platforms like Gettacar make it easy for you to choose safe and reliable used cars. Not long ago, teenagers were among the riskiest drivers as they often drove old, cheap cars that failed crash protection. 

As a parent, you need to look for a vehicle that offers a lot of safety gear at an affordable price. Ensure you avoid vehicles famed for their high performance and speed. A teen needs basic transportation usually a big’ slow sedan. 

Set Expectations 

Taking your teenager through the process of purchasing a vehicle can be an enjoyable experience. It is particularly true when you set expectations from the onset. Also, you can discuss how much each will contribute. 

Review the Costs

Besides the purchase price, there are ongoing ownership costs all drivers must understand. These costs have to be taken care of from time to time. So, before going to look for specific vehicles, discuss the maintenance needs. 

Also, discuss who will be responsible for paying for the maintenance. To do this, you can help your teenager list all the costs they will be responsible for such as: 

  • Gas
  • Oil changes
  • Annual insurance premiums 
  • Maintenance and upkeep 
  • Annual registration and inspection fees
  • Car washes
  • Tire rotations

Your teenager driver may focus on purchasing new seat covers, or speakers. It will be your duty to help him/her reprioritize and come up with a budget for planned expenses. If your teen lacks an emergency savings fund, you need to discuss how it can benefit them as a driver. 

While visiting car lots and doing online searches, ensure you highlight how a car’s ownership costs vary. Take note of the vehicle age and type of vehicle. By going through these variables, you will be teaching the teen how to make sound purchasing decisions. 

Focus on Safety and Security 

You need to make sure your teen appreciates the importance of purchasing a safe and reliable car with a reputation for being durable. The teen will likely gravitate towards a sleek and shiny vehicle. 

However, steer them towards a practical and reliable car with high safety ratings as well as features that meet their needs. Also, you can encourage the teen to have long-term goals such as one year without tickets or accidents. 

By establishing the need for safe and responsible driving, you will set your kid up for a lifetime of driving success. Avoid vehicles with a lot of horsepower since they tempt teens to show off or drive too fast. 

Talk about the Vehicle Purchasing Process

It is recommended you talk about the pros and cons of buying from a private seller versus a vehicle dealership. Go through the process regardless of whether you are paying the entire cost or the teen cover a fraction of it. 

In case you plan on taking a loan, discuss the cost of financing a car. Ensure you mention the significance of looking for the best interest rate.

What can you afford? 

Both parents and teens need to come up with a reasonable budget. A key consideration is to establish if the vehicle is meant to serve the teen through college and beyond. 

One way to save money is to buy a preowned vehicle. So, go for a car that is a few years old with contemporary safety features and useful years ahead. 

Do Your due Diligence 

Purchasing a used vehicle is the best choice, especially when college costs are around the corner. Usually, you can get a reliable used vehicle for less than $20,000. 

Inspect and Test-drive 

For this, you can go online to read professional reviews. Do this while paying attention to areas such as reliability, mpg, and infotainment features. Ensure you balance the perspective of the writer with your preferences. 

Concerns about ride quality can be established when test driving the car. Carefully, inspect the vehicle inside and out and from top to bottom. Inspect it during the day to spot any flaws or troubles. It is the only way to the vehicle is in the condition the seller claims. 

Get Expert Advice 

As you shop for a used vehicle for your teen, ensure you have a car-savvy person on hand. You may have to pay a mechanic several hundred dollars to inspect the vehicle before purchasing it. 

Honest sellers usually let this happen. Also, your teen can learn mechanical vehicle details online.  

Be Ready for Insurance Sticker Shock 

Including a newly licensed teen driver in a parent’s vehicle insurance policy is costly. Your rates could easily double compared to insuring a single adult driver. However, it is cheaper to add a teen driver to the parent’s policy compared to insuring them separately. 


As a parent of a teen driver, there are various things you need to consider when purchasing a vehicle for them. Safety and reliability are some of the most important aspects to take into account.

The teen will like the freedom of owning a vehicle but it comes with a lot of responsibility. Thus, the need to prepare the teen for a life as a driver. 

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