Tips for choosing the first car for your teen to drive
Help beginning drivers enhance their safety by considering these suggestions for their first car.
When your teenager is ready to drive, finding the right car can be a tough decision. Especially, since teen drivers tend to have a higher crash rate. Choosing the right car may contribute to improved driving choices and offer better crash protection. Some of the factors you may want to consider are safety, reliability and price.
You might want to include your teen in this process. They can share their thoughts, as well as understand what should be considered in making the decision.
Here are some car considerations to help keep your new driver safe:
- Avoid cars that have a sporty, performance-type image that might encourage young drivers to speed and test their performance.
- Later-model mid- and full-size passenger cars can be good choices since they offer sufficient weight, as well as updated safety features. Small cars offer less crash protection because of their size/weight.
- In addition to the standard driver and passenger airbags, look for a car that has other air bags, such as side and curtain air bags that add an extra measure of crash protection.
- Other driver assist safety features that might benefit your teen are Electronic Stability Control and Anti-lock Braking Systems, as well as intelligent seat belt reminder systems that help remind the driver that all occupants should wear seat belts.
- When you find a car that seems like a good choice, check safety ratings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Also consider checking out the IIHS list of 2023 safest cars for teens that might help answer “what is a good first car for a teenager?”
Before buying a car, you'll want to verify that it is dependable. Some things to ask before you buy are:
- Does the car have a warranty? If so, what does that warranty cover and for how long?
- Has the car been in a flood? Water damage may decrease the life of a car.
- Is the mileage high on the car? If the car has more than 12,000 miles for every year of its life, then the car may not have a long lifespan.
- Are there records to prove that regular maintenance has been performed on the car?
- Are there any recalls on the car? You can check for vehicle recalls at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations recall website.
Price and responsibility
- If shopping for a used car, consider having the vehicle inspected by a trusted third-party mechanic.
- See that your teenager is aware of the costs of car ownership including loans, insurance, maintenance and gas.
- Knowing how much traffic fines can be might be a strong incentive for improving driving safety.
- Parents could use the costs associated with driving as a bargaining point. For example, a parent can agree to cover gas if the teen adheres to the terms of a parent/teen driving agreement.
- If you have State Farm auto insurance, you and your teen can watch their driving progress by monitoring the Steer Clear® app, available with the Steer Clear discount program. You may also want to consider Drive Safe and Save™ to increase potential savings.
Check out more tips and tools for teen driver safety.