Three Tips for the Parent Trying to Make the Right Choice for Their Teen’s First Car

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Last year, my son John graduated high school. We were lucky because there was a great school only about an hour away from us known for its architecture program, something John has had a passion for since he was 13. After weighing the pros and cons with my wife and I, John decided that rather than spend the money to rent a dorm his first year, he’d live at home and commute to and from class.

As you might imagine, we were thrilled that we’d have an extra year of living with John. We decided that if he was going to make the choice to commute to help us save money on his college bills, that we should at least find him a used car that would get him to and from class safely. Here are some of the most important things we discovered when we went to our local car dealerships to try and find the right vehicle for our son.

What to Consider When Choosing Your Teen’s First Car

  1. Put Your Children’s Safety First
  2. The very first thing you should consider is the safety rating of each vehicle you’re considering. Using the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) website, you can plug in exactly what type of car you’re looking for and access a comprehensive safety report. Say, for example, you’re looking for the safest four-door sedan on the market. Plugging that into the IIHS website, you’d find that you should consider a Nissan Altima, as the car has multiple wins as the Top Safety Pick.

  3. You’re Better Off Going to Used Car Dealers
  4. One of the things that surprised us the most when we were looking for John’s car was how much we could save by shopping with our local used car dealerships versus those who only sell new. As a rule of thumb, you should look for a used car dealer who offers only manufacturer certified used vehicles. These are vehicles which have been restored to original manufacturer standards, meaning they’re as close to new cars in quality as you can get without buying new.

  5. Look at Average Gas Mileage
  6. According to Wells Fargo, the average commuting college student will spend over $1,000 each year on travel. Keep your student — and by extension yourself — from spending so much on gas by choosing a car with great average city and highway gas mileage. Taking into account where your teen will be doing the majority of their driving can help you make the best decision here.

Do you have experience looking for pre owned cars for your teens? What advice would you give to parents now going through the struggle of used car shopping? Let us know in the comments below. Find out more here.

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