Factors to Consider When Buying Your Teen a Car


It may seem like yesterday that your child was just a baby, but inexplicably, he’s now a teenager and demanding a new car. That first car is such a milestone that you’ve probably been discussing it since your teen was still a tween.

If you are feeling generous and want to buy your teen his first car — or chip in a hefty portion of the price — it’s important that you consider all your options before taking the plunge. There are special considerations for choosing a car for a teen driver, and you need to think through all of them carefully.

Here are a few factors to mull over before buying your teen a car from a Lexington, KY used car dealership:


One of the biggest debates about buying a car for a teen is how much to spend. On the one hand, you don’t want to spend too much because teenagers are notoriously hard on cars. They are more reckless drivers and are at much greater risk of getting into an accident. Even if they manage to avoid a crash, they are highly likely to take out a mailbox or two or to back into a tree or telephone pole.

Teens are also very hard on the way they drive their cars. They may speed, brake hard, or shift improperly. A car driven by a teenager is one that is more likely to need repairs.

Many parents argue in favor of buying a new car for its perceived safety advantages. However, you can buy used cars that are just as safe and cost a fraction of the price. For the best used cars, Lexington, Kentucky residents trust Dan Cummins Chevrolet Buick. We sell certified used cars that are affordable, reliable and safe — the perfect combination for a teen’s first car.

Safety Features

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. In 2013, almost 3,000 teenagers were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and there were 963,000 accidents involving teenagers.

Teens face their biggest risk in the first six months after they get their license. You can reduce that risk by giving your teen plenty of supervised driving practice, as well as getting a car that has plenty of safety features.

Many vehicles come with a variety of cameras that provide “eyes” all around the car. Look for features such as blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert and a surround view camera. The more views your teen has, the better equipped he will be to avoid collision.

Other safety features to look for include comprehensive airbag protection, anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, hands-free controls, a navigation system, and roadside assistance.

Though many of these features are becoming standard on new vehicles, you can find them on the upper trim levels of many used vehicles as well as some newer used models. If you don’t find the safety features you want, consider that you may be able to add them with an optional package. Doing so allows you to get the features you want while still saving money.

Responsibility Level

Some teens just can’t resist putting the pedal to the medal or showing off for friends while driving. While most parents aren’t going to buy their teens cars with supercharged engines or SRT technology, they still need to carefully review the potential of seemingly modest cars. Even some family friendly sedans can reach high speeds.

Think beyond the car’s performance specs when determining whether it is a good match for your teen’s responsibility level. Some cars come with high-tech features such as satellite radio or WiFi that will prove to be too distracting for your teen. You may want to focus on older models that do not come with these features.

Some vehicles also come with parental controls. For example, the system will notify you if the vehicle reaches a pre-set speed or goes outside a defined region. Some systems will automatically shut off the radio if the seat belt is not engaged or a certain speed is reached.

You may only find these parental controls on new cars or on newer used models. In some cases, you may be able to add this system as an after-market feature.

Insurance Costs

Your teen is already going to cost an arm and a leg to insure. Don’t add another limb by purchasing your teen a car that will cost more to insure.

New cars typically cost more to insure because they have a higher value. However, there are always exceptions as some new cars can cost less than some used cars, depending on the model. You can buy a new Smart car for less than a used Mercedes, obviously.

Other vehicles that will cost more to insure are performance models, large vehicles like trucks and SUVs, and models that are popular among thieves. In 2013, the most stolen car was the Honda Accord, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The vehicles filling out the top 10 most stolen vehicles were the Honda Civic, Chevy Silverado, Ford F-150, Toyota Camry, Dodge pickups, Dodge Caravan, Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, Toyota Corolla, and Nissan Altima.

Stick to modest, family friendly vehicles to get the lowest insurance rates for your teen. You can also lower rates by signing up for multiple policies with the same carrier, and you may qualify for a discount if you work for a large employer. Your teen can also help lower the rates by getting good grades and taking a driver education course.

When you have your choices narrowed down, we encourage you to visit Dan Cummins Chevrolet Buick to explore our selection of quality used cars. Lexington, Kentucky residents trust our dealership for the best prices on the best used cars in the region. Bring your teen to take a test drive and find the vehicle that will be the right fit. Your teen will be able to take an active role in choosing a vehicle that is comfortable to drive, and you can turn the experience into a learning opportunity about making good buying choices and evaluating financing options.