How to Prepare Your Teen for Owning Their First Car

How to Prepare Your Teen for Owning Their First Car

Your teenager has probably been throwing subtle hints that they want a car for their next birthday, or after they graduate high school. You may fear that while your teenager shows a commendable sense of responsibility when driving with friends, they may not be ready to own a car.

As a parent, you want the best for your kid, and them owning a car is a somewhat soft introduction to the responsibilities of adulthood. So how do you set your child up for a successful car ownership journey? Here are crucial pointers on preparing your teen to own their first car.

First Things First-Educate Your Teen

It’s easy to assume, but does your teen know how to drive, or do they prefer driving with friends? It’s one thing to buy a reliable car, but all reduce to nothing if your teen doesn’t Know how to drive. You may have taught them simple things like reversing and parking a car, but the importance of enrolling your kid in a driving school is that they learn all the basics. A professional driving school teacher helps educate your child about the inner workings of a car, the rules of the road, and safe driving.

This is your chance as a parent to be a good role model and become aware of your poor driving habits. Remember that your teen learns plenty by observing you and not so much by listening to you. Therefore, if you want your teen to become a good driver, set a good example. Avoid texting while driving or under the influence, do not speed, and practice courtesy while respecting other road users. Show them how to carry themselves when driving with friends or alone.

Prioritize Safety

Ask your teen which car they want, and they’ll probably choose an SUV they saw while driving with friends or a fast car they admired online but can barely handle. Motor vehicle accidents top the list of teenage death causes, which could be avoided if the car is safe and ideal for an amateur teen driver. Help your teen understand that it is time to buy the car of their dreams, but it is important to get a safe and easy vehicle for the teen to operate.

It must be safe regardless of whether the car model is new or used. Safety here means that the car has features like electronic stability control, an anti-lock brake system, and airbags. Consider researching about crash test results of a car before purchase. Go further and research more about the safest models in the market that fit within your budget.

New or Used Car: The Pros and Cons

It’s prudent to involve your kid in the intricate car purchase process because they’ll be driving the car 90% of the time. But since you’re the one who will bear the financial responsibility of purchasing the car for your teen, consider whether your budget accommodates the purchase of a new or used car. Each choice has unique advantages and disadvantages, which you must consider before making the final purchase.

New Cars Pros and Cons

When sifting through new cars for sale catalogs, you’re mesmerized by the many options of glossy, colorful new cars, one of which could soon become your child’s own. Below is a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of buying a new car for your teen.


  • Has the latest features:

New cars have updated safety features and a more advanced system that facilitates fuel efficiency when driving with friends.

  • Has warranty protection:

You can rely on a new car to take on different challenges and go on for miles without developing issues. Should you encounter a problem within the warranty protection period, the manufacturer will cover the repair costs.

  • Free roadside assistance:

Most new cars come with additional benefits, such as roadside assistance to tow your car for free in case your car suddenly breaks down.

  • Lucrative financing deals:

Are you worried you don’t have enough to cover all the costs of a new car? Worry not because car dealers will offer you curated low-interest financing deals, provided you have good credit.


  • Expensive

New cars come at a significantly higher price than used cars.

  • Depreciates fast

A new car depreciates faster than a used car.

  • You’ll spend more on insurance

It costs more to insure a new car because it will cost more to replace it should an accident occur, or a write-off order is given.

Used Vehicles Pros and Cons

Second-hand car dealers have plenty of pre-owned vehicles that could fit the daily demands of a teen driver. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of buying a used car for your teen.


  • Pocket-friendly price

Buying a used car in perfect condition costs significantly less than a brand-new car.

  • Has warranty protection

To assure you of the car’s superb condition, used car dealers draft warranties for some of their cars which is an extension of the original manufacturer’s warranty.

  • Cheaper to insure:

If you’re paying cash to purchase a used car, you’ll spend significantly less on insurance.


  • Limited choices:

Finding the exact used car brand options with the precise specifications your teen wants is challenging.

  • Higher Mileage:

Used vehicles have had previous owners and thus have covered more in mileage than new cars.

  • Limited access to consumer Protections:

Lemon laws or consumer protection laws only apply if yours is either a new car or a used car whose age and mileage are under a certain threshold.

Think About Insurance

Help your teen understand that car ownership comes with numerous hidden costs. Therefore, beyond coming up with the money to purchase a car, you need more to cater for the title, fuel, cost of taxes, routine maintenance, and tags. But most importantly, you need money for auto insurance. Find out if the car insurance company offers discounts for teens. Some companies will charge less or give a discount if your teen is a good student in school or exhibits exemplary responsibility and completes the driver education course. Below are key points that will help your teen understand more about car insurance.

  • Insurance is essential because it’s a legal requirement

Task your teen to remind you when the next insurance payment is due.

  • You and your teen can agree to share insurance costs to cultivate a sense of responsibility

For example, you can agree to cover the initial insurance costs for the first year after the car purchase and share costs the following year.

  • Explore online through different insurance companies

To introduce your teen to deductibles, coverage types, and what to do if they’re involved in an accident.

  • Make your child understand that insurance costs

This will increase if they’re involved in an accident or get traffic tickets while driving with friends.

Aftermarket Car Parts Worth Buying

Whether buying a new or used car for your teen, you may want to add some things to personalize the car and enhance its safety or performance. Your teen may find a long list of aftermarket truck accessories quite intriguing. Below is a short list of aftermarket accessories you could consider.

1. Auto Glass Tinting

Auto glass tinting helps protect against scratches, bright UV rays and enhances privacy for your car. It involves applying a type of polyester film on the car windows. Depending on its thickness, people can’t see the inside of your teen’s car from the outside.

2. Paint Protection

Paint protection involves applying polish, cleaning liquid, or wax to protect your car from external factors like dirt, scratches, and UV rays. Paint protection helps preserve your car’s original luster and maintains its resale value.

3. Suspension

Upgrade your used car’s suspension system to enhance performance, ride comfort, and handling while driving with friends. Consider working with a reputable manufacturer to ensure your suspension is effective and safe on tarmac and rough roads.

4. Air-Intake

A working air intake system helps channel air into the engine, enhancing fuel efficiency and performance. Aftermarket air intake upgrades often pump up the engine sound, an addition your teen will likely be ecstatic about.

5. Exhaust System

Aftermarket exhaust systems reduce noise and emissions from your car. Work closely with a renowned local car detailing service to identify the best exhaust system that can work well with the make and model of your car.

6. Other Necessary Add-ons

Other aftermarket additions essential for the enhanced function of your car include changing tires, brake pads, wipers, and car air conditioning filters. Compared to new parts, aftermarket car parts are cheaper and high quality.

Create an Emergency Contact List

Help your teen understand the importance of knowing when and who to call the instant there’s an emergency when driving with friends or alone. It is dreadful to imagine a scenario where your child would need to contact someone in case of an emergency. However, it eases your mind to know that your child knows the steps to take should they need immediate help or attention. Below are some excellent people for your teen to include in their primary emergency contact list.

  • Your parents:

As a teen, your parents need to stay updated about your whereabouts when driving with friends or away from home.

  • A friend

Choose a friend that always picks up your calls and can respond fast whenever you express your need for help

  • The doctor

Whether you have a pre-existing medical condition or not, always keep your doctor’s contact details close just in case you need to reach out.

  • Ambulance service

Should your teen cause or incur injury while on the road, having the contacts of a local ambulance service provider can help save lives.

Cars break down for many reasons. When you have the contacts of a tow truck company within reach, you enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can reach out to someone in case your car stalls.

The ideal emergency contact list includes people you trust and have what it takes to respond swiftly when called upon. The people in your emergency contact list should know information about your teen, including:

  • Your teen’s blood type
  • Whether or not your teen has allergies
  • Your teen’s medical history and existing medical conditions

Have your teen keep a digital and hard copy of their emergency contact list. Let them share those contacts with you for safekeeping.

Do a Background Check

Buying a car for your teen prepares them and equips them with the information they need should they want to upgrade and buy a better car. Therefore, it’s not too early for your teen to learn about the importance of doing a background check before or after purchasing a car. A background check is a report from private or government databases that tells you about a car’s history. A background check informs you whether or not the car you’re buying has been stolen, is a damaged import, re-registered, or clocked for repossession.

Remember that after purchasing a car, the vehicle becomes your responsibility, and a background check ensures you don’t inherit unpleasant responsibilities. A background check often applies if you’re purchasing a used car. Consider seeking assistance from a professional mechanic to spot flaws that may indicate previous automotive repair. It may cost you extra, but a mechanic helps ascertain that the car is in superb condition and that you’re letting your teen drive a safe car.

Note that a background check differs from a mechanical inspection. The two are essential but should be procured separately.

Set Strict Boundaries

Your teen must understand that owning a car means you’re trusting them to handle themselves appropriately in your presence or absence. While you are confident that your teen can handle the responsibility of owning a car, it doesn’t hurt to set some rules before handing over the keys. Different rules work for different parents and their teens. Sit down with your child and draft several ground rules. To give you a head start:

  • No texting while driving
  • No lending the car to friends
  • Keep the car clean
  • No driving with friends after certain hours
  • Detail who is and isn’t allowed in the car
  • No speeding, etc.

How to Prepare Your Teen for Owning Their First Car: Bottom Line

Owning their first car is an exciting milestone for your teen. Most teens are eager to get behind the wheel by the time they’re about fifteen, but does that mean they’re ready? This is where you, the parent, help orient them into the driving and car ownership journey. Your teen must understand that driving and owning a car is a privilege that comes with responsibility. Abusing that responsibility may lead to them losing their car or, worse, getting injured on the road.

If you have difficulty figuring out how best to be there for your loved one, above are crucial pointers on preparing your teen before they get behind the wheel.

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