Buying a Car for a Teenage Driver

Lucy Lazarony
November 4, 2020

They’re ready for their own set of wheels, as long as you pay the price tag. Buying a car for a teenage driver can be a challenge. You’re looking for a car with a good safety record and a good price. A brand-new economy car is one option as long as you plan to hang on to the car for a while. Will this car be following your son or daughter off to college and beyond? Then investing in a brand-new economy car with a good safety record will do the trick. Be sure to do plenty of research. There are lots of cars to choose from and you want the best for your son or daughter. So dig in and do some research. Check out Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, Motor Trend, Car and Driver and J.D. Power and research the pros and cons of cars you and your son or daughter are interested in. Research several models until you find the one that is just right. Be sure to shop around for auto financing. Your bank or credit union is a good place to start. You want to walk into a car dealership with financing in hand so the dealer has to beat the best financing deal that you found on your own.

Shopping for a Used Car

Don’t have the money for a new car? Shopping for a used car is a great way to go. There are plenty of used cars available. You can shop for a used car on a used car lot or from a private seller. You may even know somebody looking to upgrade to a newer model with a used car to trade in. Do you know someone with a 10-year-old car that has only been driven by one driver? Those are great cars to buy and the owner is happy to sell since they will get a better price in a private sale than from a dealer. So ask your friends and family if they know of someone looking to sell a car, you never know, you may find the car you are looking for through word of mouth.

Do plenty of research. Sites such as, and Carfax make it easy to find used cars near you. Do some digging on the make and model of the car that you and your son and daughter like. Consider the pros and cons. Be sure to check safety ratings. You want a safe ride for your teenage son or daughter even if the car is a few years old. Does the car still have some of its original warranty? Be sure to ask. Don’t forget to check the vehicle history of a used car to find out the previous owner and its service record.

Buying a car from a used car lot? Shop ahead for financing so a dealer has to beat the best financing offer that you found on your own. Buying from a private seller? Follow these tips.

Buying from a Private Seller

Taking the car for a test drive is a key part of buying a car from a private seller. Here are some tips for doing it right, and these tips also can be applied to test drives at car dealerships.

Walk around the car and take a close look at the car’s exterior. Are there scratches and bumps? How does the bumper look? Is it clean or has the driver been bumping into quite a few things?

Find Insurance for a Teen Driver

Look at the tires. Are they new? Has the tread worn evenly? Will you need to put a new set of tires on your to-do list if you should buy the car? Don’t forget to check underneath the car for any leaks.

Get in the car and start it up. Did it hesitate or did it start right up? Take the car for a short test drive. How is the steering handling? How are the brakes? How does the car accelerate?

Next, turn on the air conditioning. How fast does the car cool down? You can test out the heater as well. How quickly does the car’s temperature change? You’ll want to know come winter or summer.

Test turn signals and test power windows and power door locks. Is everything working properly?

If you take a car for a test drive and it seems to be running just fine, it is still a good idea to take the care to a mechanic. Ask the seller to bring the car to a mechanic that you trust. The inspection will cost between $100 and $200 and it is well worth the money. You’re paying a professional for specific advice about the car you are looking to buy. Better to know of any problems before you agree to buy. And if the news is good, you can breathe easy knowing you’ve found a well-maintained car for your son or daughter.

Shopping Around For Car Insurance

You’ve got the car, you’ve paid for it or financed it and now it is time to think about insurance. It makes the most sense to keep the car insurance in the parent’s name and list the teenage driver as one of the drivers on the car insurance. Getting insurance in your teenage son or daughter’s name is very expensive. And it seems like a lot of money to spend on a car that they will mostly be driving to school and an after-school job. So the car’s in the parent’s name and so is the car insurance but the teenage son or daughter gets all the freedom of driving it. So it all works out for the best.

One last thing don’t forget to shop around for car insurance. To get the best deal, you’ll want to compare offers from several insurance companies. SmartFinancial makes it easy to do. Just input a zip code to get started. Next, answer a few, quick questions and you’ll be comparing auto insurance rates near you in no time.

SmartFinancial has access to more than 200 insurance companies so you are bound to find the coverage and price that you are looking for. So shop smart for the car, the financing and your car insurance. Shop around and save money on your car for a teenage driver.

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