Things to Consider When Buying Your Teenager Their First Car

My oldest son, my teenager Lee, was in the room with me, and he saw that I was posting this post sent in by a reader. His reaction? This isn't relevant locally because cars cost so much, so even having one for the family is a big deal- we don't have one- so we aren't likely to buy one for our teenagers. However, for those of you who live where cars are more affordable, here are things to consider if you plan on buying your teenager a car.

Getting the first car for your child can be complex and nerve wrecking. You want to get the safest, most reliable car available but also do not want to go over your budget. This article will discuss the top 5 things to think about when buying your teenager their first car.


The first criteria when choosing a new car for your child is of course safety. You want to find a model that is the safest, even if it’s not the latest or prettiest model. It should have all the basic safety features, including airbags, power locks, size and weight of the car. For an inexperienced driver, advanced safety features like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, electronic stability control, blind stop warning systems are all important features to consider.

You also want a car that does not have too many distractions, because with teenagers, distractions on the road can often lead to accidents. Hence, a car with Bluetooth capabilities and hands-free features would be a good idea as your kid will be less likely to text or use their hand to open the phone. To increase safety, the car should also limit the maximum speed that can be reached.


Whether you are getting a new or used car, you should look at how much reliability that car has. There are many new cars which come with inherent design or manufacturing problems called “lemon cars”. When buying a new car like a Volkswagen, if your VW is a lemon, you should always consult a specialized lawyer as lemons can easily cause accidents and you will be entitled to considerable compensation. A new car can be quite expensive and you don’t want to spend money on a new car that ends up having technical problems. Hence, it is definitely important to read up on the ratings and reviews of the car to find out its performance and reliability score.

For a used car, you may want to get someone with the technical knowledge to come and look at it with you. They will be able to identify if a car is too beat up to be reliable or if it has been well-maintained. You can also get a pre-inspection done by a certified mechanic. Making sure of this reliability factor will help you feel more assured when your child gets behind the wheel.

Cost Efficiency

Cost is definitely a big factor for many people when going car-shopping for their teenager. Generally, people don’t tend to spend too much on the first car for their child. You can decide your budget first and then narrow down the makes and models within the budget. Keep in mind though that it's always worth spending a little more to go for the safest model than just choosing the cheapest one which may not be as safe.

Another cost factor to consider is fuel efficiency. A more efficient car will help you and your teenager save a lot on gas in the long run. A car is generally considered fuel efficient if it has a government fuel economy rating of 25 miles per gallon.

Speed and Size

Speed is definitely the next factor you should consider. For a young driver, a car with high speed only means trouble. They may be tempted to do a race or try out the maximum speed and this can end up badly. This is why you should avoid getting your teen a sports car. Instead it is usually safer to go for mid-sized sedans or smaller SUVs. Sometimes people think a big car is safer but in reality, bigger cars like minivans and large SUVs are harder to handle and as they can hold more passengers, there will also be more distractions on the road for the driver.

Test Drive

A car that looks good on paper doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy to handle. Test drives are especially important for new drivers. It will give your child a sense of how they handle different models of vehicles, and whether or not this vehicle is the right one. It’s a good idea to test drive the car you plan on getting on different road types and in different environments so you know how it handles, and so you can pinpoint any potential issues.

These are the top 5 tips you should consider when purchasing the first car for your teen. Safety is always the most important criteria and depending on your budget, you can choose to get a new or used car that has the advanced safety features and the right speed and size. Never forget to test drive the vehicle with your teen so that they know exactly what they will be getting. Start doing your research today to find the best car for the best value!

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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