Think about these three questions when buying a car for your teen


Who knew the time would pass so quickly and your sweet little infant would turn into a teenager and start the timeless tradition of begging for a car.

But how do you pick out the right car or truck for your teen?

While Junior will likely want the shiniest, fastest vehicle on the dealership lot, there may be a few more things you want to consider before making your choice.

Should you buy new or used?

This largely depends on your preference and budget.

Buying new almost guarantees that there will be no mechanical issues or breakdowns. And your kid will love the fact that a new car is more likely to have the latest bells and whistles like Bluetooth music and phone connectivity.

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But that luxury comes at a price. According to USAToday.com, the average price of a new car or truck sold in the U.S. is more than $33,000. That’s a lot to pay just for traveling back and forth to school.

Used cars aren’t exactly cheap, averaging $19,500, but could provide many of the same perks at a fraction of the price. But experts from Bankrate.com say inspecting a used car before buying is imperative to keep from costly repairs.

Speaking of price…

How much do you want to pay?

Like many big-ticket items, experts say the first step in purchasing a vehicle is figuring out your budget. So the question is more like, “How much CAN you afford to pay?” A budget calculator is just what you need to put things into perspective.

According to Experian, the average monthly payment for a new car auto loan is $471, while used car monthly payments are slightly lower at $352. Add in the cost of maintenance, gas and car insurance, and the cost of buying just skyrocketed.

A budget calculator is the best place to start the journey to a new car. It allows you to see what you’re spending and gives you an idea of how to prepare for an extra bill if you’re planning to finance your child’s vehicle.

How do I keep my child safe?

Choosing a safe vehicle is imperative.

The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC goes on to say that teens’ risk of accidents is particularly high during the first months after getting their licenses. That fear is probably what prompts parents into super-sizing their choice in hopes of protecting their new driver.

But bigger may not always be better.

Do a little research on quality and reliability ratings. Organizations like J.D. Powers share vehicle safety information such as air bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control to help you make a more informed decision.

There’s no doubt that the decision to buy your teen a car will come with an endless amount of input from your son or daughter on what type of vehicle they want. But what they need and can afford is up to you.

Once all is said and done, knowing that you made the right decision for your family hopefully will provide some piece of mind when your young driver takes the road.