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Tips on Buying a Car for Your Teenager

April 4th, 2017
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You probably met the day that your teen received his or her driver’s license with a mixture of joy and trepidation. On one hand you don’t have to drive your teen to every sporting or social event, while on the other hand your worry about safety. When the time comes to buy a car for your teen, with your own money, theirs or a combination of the two, you worry even more whether the vehicle will protect your young driver in the event of a mishap.

The days of purchasing the proverbial beater are over. With the advances in safety over the last decade, many systems will compensate for those times where inexperience can lead to accidents. Following are tips to help you purchase your teen’s first car along with some suggested models.

Must-Have Features

Although you may have to compromise to stay within your budget, you should buy a vehicle with the most advanced safety features that you can afford. Don’t even consider a car without anti-lock brakes. Most cars with anti-lock brakes will also have traction control.

Another must-have is electronic stabilization control (ESC), which helps keep the vehicle on the road and prevent it from rolling over in an emergency situation. ESC will also help keep the car from careening into a tree or a telephone pole. Beginning with the 2012 model year, all vehicles manufactured for use in the United States were required to have ESC, although manufacturers included it on many models as standard before that date.

Side and curtain airbags are another desirable feature as these form a critical buffer in side collision accidents. They can also help keep occupants inside the vehicle. A used vehicle equipped with all of these can make the difference in helping keep your inexperienced teen safe on the road.

What Type of Vehicle?

Your image-conscious teen may have his or her own ideas about what to take out on the road, but you should select a vehicle that handle well, have good stopping distances and not bee too fast or too slow. You’ll also want crash result tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) before purchasing a specific model.

Beyond that, most car safety experts recommend that teens drive a mid-size or slightly larger sedan as weight and size play a role in safety. Don’t go too large, however, as larger vehicles such as full-size fans and pickup trucks can be hard to maneuver. Larger SUVs are also not recommended for younger drivers as they are more prone to rolling over. Avoid sports cars as they increase the risk of speeding and have a higher accident rate.

Some Recommended Vehicles

Obviously, as you will also have to maintain the car, you want one that’s reliable as well as safe. Consumer Reports regularly rates vehicles for their safety and reliability. Overall, many models manufactured by Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota an Volkswagen will fall into this category. If possible, purchase a vehicle from the 2007 model year or later. That doesn’t mean you should ignore cars from American manufacturers. Here are recommended affordable models that are suitable for teen drivers.

Chevrolet Malibu, 2009-2012
This mid-sized sedan is comfortable, quiet and has a well-finished interior. It has responsive handling with precise and light steering. The pedals and steering wheel easily adjust, which make this vehicle a good choice for taller teens. Easy-to-operate controls are another plus.

Ford Focus, 2009-2011
As a small sedan, the Ford Focus is fun to drive and agile. Its upright seating gives teens a good view of the road. If you select one that has the optional Sync system, you get the added feature of hand-free phone connectivity. When eqipped with a manual transmission, the Focus is also a good choice to teach your son or daughter to drive a stick shift.

Hyundai Sonata, 2006-2014
Comfortable and quiet, the Hyundai Sonata has a soft ridge and simple controls. The four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic revamped with the 2009 model year delivers good acceleration and decent gas mileage at 26 mpg. The generation starting with the 2011 model year has a swooping coupe-like body that appeals to younger drivers.

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