7 things to remember when buying your teen a car

Your teenager gets his or her driver’s license. It’s a moment that can make you proud … and also filled with dread. Your baby will now be out on the road without a net. Then comes the decision of whether to buy your teen a car.

If you are considering such a purchase this holiday season, there are 6 things you need to remember

#1. Remember…this will affect your insurance rates.

There is no getting around the fact that insuring teen drivers will raise your auto insurance premiums. An NBC News report stated, “On average, adding a driver between the ages of 16 and 19 will cause a married couple’s insurance rates to rise 80 percent.”

The younger the driver, the higher the insurance rate. Teen boys also tend to have higher rates than teen girls.

However, buying the right car will do a lot to keep the price down. Certain cars come with safety features that will give you a break on insurance. You can also look into certain discounts that might apply to your teen driver. For instance, some insurance companies offer discounts for full-time college students.

#2. Remember to shop around.

You want to find the best deal, whether buying a new or used car. The good news is there are many resources that can help. Go online to start comparing prices, gas mileage, features, quality, and reliability. These websites can also offer tips on how to negotiate the best price at dealerships:

Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Reports

#3. Remember: Safety trumps pretty

Every teen wants a flashy sports car or an SUV – something that looks cool. However, “cool” doesn’t always translate to a “safe” for a young driver.

Here are some sobering facts, according to TeenDriversSource.org:

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens
  • In 2013, six teens ages 16-19 died every day as a result of motor vehicle crashes
  • Per mile driven, teen drivers are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash

Thankfully, there is plenty of information out there regarding safety ratings. Do some research to find out which cars have the best record. According to BankRate.com, “While it may seem like bigger is better when it comes to safety, sheer size isn’t the most important factor … you’ll want to consider crash test results for the vehicle and the safety features it offers.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety publish findings about crash tests, while consumer magazines like J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports measure quality and reliability.

“In most cases, you’ll find that late-model used cars with safety equipment such as air bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control top the lists,” according to the same BankRate.com article.

#4. Remember, safety starts with the driver

The other truth about car accidents is that nearly all of them are avoidable. A safe car does nothing if the driver acts recklessly.

The same report from the TeenDriversSource.org states that …

• 75 percent of serious teen driver crashes are due to “critical errors”, with three common errors accounting for nearly half of these crashes:

o Lack of scanning that is needed to detect and respond to hazard

o Going too fast for road conditions

o Being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle

• Distraction was a key factor in 58 percent of crashes

It’s a good idea to enroll teens in a quality driver’s education program. Some high schools still have them, but there are other organizations that offer classes. It’s also important to talk to teens about the dangers of talking or texting on their phones while driving.

Then set up rules for your teen driver, including …

  • Limiting the number of passengers in the car
  • Issuing a “no cell phone” policy
  • Determine what your teen should do in the event of an emergency

#5. Remember to carefully inspect used cars.

A good used vehicle is always an option for a first car, but be careful to have it inspected.

According to BankRate.com, “Consider asking an ASE-certified mechanic (that is, a mechanic who has received certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) to do a pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle. And for low-budget cars…plan to spend $1,500 to $2,000 on maintenance right away to make sure the brakes, tires and other features are safe for your teen.”

#6. Remember to add teen safety features

We talked about overall car safety ratings, but there is specific technology available today that can provide an extra measure of security, especially for teen drivers. According to Family Circle Magazine, “Monitoring devices like Plug-N-Track and CarChip Pro…gather details like time and date, distance traveled, speed, even extreme acceleration and braking; you then download the data to a computer. Mobile apps such as AccuTracking and Speedbump do the same …”

A good GPS or navigation system is also a must as it can provide directions in case your teen gets lost or needs to go to an unfamiliar area.

#7. Remember … it’s okay to ask your teen to help pay the costs.

While most teens could never afford to buy and own a car completely on their own, it is a good idea to have him or her pay at least some of the costs. In fact, it may be one of your conditions for buying the car in the first place. She or he might agree to pay a portion of the insurance, gas or maintenance. It’s a good way to help them feel like true “owners” of the vehicle. It can also teach them the value of money and help them learn how to take care of their own things.

If you’ll be putting a big bow on a car for your teen at Christmas this year, keep these 7 tips in mind. And remember to contact Avante Insurance today to handle your teen’s insurance needs.