Turning Buying Your Teenager's First Car Into A Learning Experience

So your teenager has finally gotten that driver's license and is ready to hit the open road. It's time to buy a car! There's a lot to consider when purchasing a vehicle for your young driver. Buying a car represents a unique opportunity to teach your teenager a lesson in responsibility, smart priorities and vehicular safety. These tips will help you turn the experience of purchasing your child's first car into a valuable learning experience. 

Make Your Teenager Contribute

This is a good time for your child to learn the value of fiscal responsibility. Tell your child that you will match his or her contributions to the down payment dollar for dollar. Adding to the money for the down payment will give your child some control over the type of car he or she will have, because the more your child contributes, the better the car he or she will be able to drive. Feeling an investment in the car that gets purchased will give your child incentive to take care of the vehicle and drive it responsibly.

Bring Your Teenager With You to the Dealership

You may have the final say in the car that gets bought for your teenager, but the car buying process represents a unique and rare opportunity for your child to learn important lessons about negotiations, smart decision-making and responsible car ownership. Bring your child with you to the car dealership to watch the proceedings and talk first hand with the car salesperson. To help your child get involved in the process, have your child prepare a list of questions to ask the salesperson at the car dealership.

Safety First

Young drivers are at high risk for accidents and fatalities. In fact, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 16 and 25. For your young driver, staying safe behind the wheel will mean buying a safe car. Have your child check consumer reports and look up each vehicle's crash test ratings and performance tests.  Have your child call or visit the dealership ahead of time to find what safety features the dealership would recommend for a young driver.

To keep things organized and quantifiable, have your child prepare a chart or spreadsheet with crash test ratings, features and prices. Use these spreadsheets to determine which make and model is the best for your young driver, and then have your child search for cars that offer those features.