5 Tips for Buying Your Teen a Car

June 22nd, 2015 by


What You Need to Consider When Choosing a Car for a First-Time Driver

You’ve spent your life trying to protect your baby. And now your baby is a teenager who has passed his or her driver’s test and can’t wait to get behind the wheel and hit the road! Not so fast there, Lightning McQueen!

Now it’s time for you to choose a vehicle that will keep your baby young adult safe as they become new drivers. There’s a lot to consider.

Sadly, statistics show that car accidents are the number one cause of death of teenagers in the United States and Canada. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that a significantly high proportion of accidents involving teens (82%) were in vehicles that were over six years old, and nearly half of the teens who died (48%) were in a vehicle that was at least 11 years old. Also notable is that 30% of fatal teen injuries occurred in mini or small cars. Pretty sobering statistics, right?

Despite your child’s insistence on having a car that looks cool to drive, you should only be interested in a few factors when it comes to buying a car for your teenager.


Of course, budget is a concern for most of us. But parents in the past have made the mistake of buying an old clunker with the thought that a teen would learn to maintain it, and the few extra scratches or dents they’ll get wouldn’t be a big deal. While that’s true, buying an older used car that doesn’t have the more current safety technology is taking a risk you don’t need.

You don’t need to buy a new vehicle, but do consider choosing the most recent model year you can afford. Save your money by selecting a pre-owned car with great safety features but just the basics as far as style, rather than vehicles with expensive trim packages and high-end stereos.

Have questions about leasing vs purchasing, budgeting and expenses?


Consumer Reports suggests that a vehicle for a first-time driver should be equipped with as many life-saving systems you can afford, ideally including:

  • Anti-lock brakes
  • Stability control
  • Multi-stage advanced front air bags, with side and head-protection curtain air bags

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) names several Buick and GMCs in their 2014Best Choices categories for Recommended used vehicles for teens, which, they say, “meet safety criteria for teen drivers.” These include:

Best Choices, Large Cars:

2011 (and later) Buick Regal

2010 (and later) Buick LaCrosse

Best Choices, Midsize Cars:

2012 (and later) Buick Verano

Best Choices, Midsize SUVs:

2010 (and later) GMC Terrain

Best Choices, Large SUVs:

2011 (and later) Buick Enclave

2011 (and later) GMC Acadia

Discover awesome new & used vehicles that are totally teen appropriate!

Insurance suppliers like AllState like to point out that, because safer cars tend to have a lower accident risk, they are usually less expensive to insure. Always an important point for parents!

Regardless of the vehicle you choose, you’ll need to have a talk with your teen about responsible driving behaviour:

  • The more teens in one car, the higher the likelihood of an accident. Limit the number of friends your child can have in the car.
  • Insist on a non-negotiable, no cell phone policy while driving. Have your teen put his or her phone in the glove box or backseat when driving to avoid temptation. Remind them of safe driving habits that include not eating, putting on makeup or fidgeting with the stereo while at the wheel.
  • Discuss scenarios when driving may be hazardous (bad weather) or dangerous (driving after drinking or doing drugs) and how to handle those situations in advance. Tell them you would be happy to come and get them if they feel they are in an unsafe driving situation.
  • Give them a short, written set of instructions to follow in case they are involved in a collision and keep it in the vehicle.


Hold those horses, Mister! Literally. Don’t buy a vehicle for your teen that has more horsepower than they need to safely drive on the highway. A muscle car will only be a temptation to go over the speed limit, and your teen doesn’t need more power for the short daily trips to school and work around town. Buying a fuel-efficient vehicle will help save you more at the gas pump, too.


It seems that experts would agree that bigger is better when it comes to finding a safer vehicle for new drivers. You want a vehicle with a large enough frame to take the brunt of an impact, rather than the passengers. You want a vehicle that sits lower to the ground to reduce the possibility of rolling over.


Well, okay … once you’ve made the final decisions regarding the other factors, you can let your teen pick the colour. Go crazy, kid.

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