While the typical teenager’s interest in cars may be waning (studies show that today’s teens are less interested in cars than the previous generation), there are still a tremendous number of young people eager to become licensed drivers. Many teenagers who are eager to establish their independence look forward to the time when they will not only drive, but actually own their own vehicle as well.
However, due to their inexperience and quintessential naivety, a great many teenagers don’t know what is involved in the purchasing process (frankly, a lot of adults don’t either, but we’re getting off topic). To help you and your teen with the used car buying process, here are eight tips for buying a used car for a teenager:
1. Make a plan. Figure out what kind of car you will be buying and how you will pay for it. Remember that just because you are purchasing a vehicle, this does not mean that you need to buy an expensive, luxurious car.
2. Buy an efficient vehicle. Purchase a car that is efficient to use, good on gasoline and easy to drive. Most teenagers will want something that is affordable and easy to maintain.
3. Consider buying an older vehicle. Thinking about putting your teen in a brand new car? Consider this: Will your son or daughter appreciate being able to drive a new car, or will they take it for granted? Every teen is different, but the fact is there are millions of Americans who can’t afford to buy a new car. Looking at an older vehicle might help your teen appreciate the finer things in life more when they’re older.
4. Figure out the payments. If you are a parent who is buying a car for your teenager, or if you are a teenager who is looking at purchasing your very first car, you will need to sit down and figure out your expenses. Develop a plan to figure out how you will pay for the vehicle (i.e. either by loan, monthly payment, or cash). You will also need to consider whether or not you will be able to handle the payment. Depending on your budget, purchasing a used car may make more sense than buying a vehicle that is brand new.
5. Know where you will be buying your new car. Choose a dealership that offers good vehicle services, easy financing, and cars that are in good condition. Check out review websites like Yelp.com, Kudzu.com, and DealerRater.com to see what other people say.
6. Get a second opinion. When you buy a car, ask someone to come along with you for a second set of eyes. You can also bring the car you like to a local mechanic to check it out before you buy.
7. Consider buying out of state and online. There are plenty of car-buying options out there where you can get a great deal online while still buying a car from a known auto dealer. By looking across state lines to buy a used car, you might be able to save some money. If driving cross country to pick up a vehicle for your child doesn’t sound like fun, have it shipped to you through a car shipping company. Just make sure that auto transport company you hire also provides affordable car shipping rates.
8. Check out car sharing. If your teen is headed off to college, you definitely want to investigate car sharing services like ZipCar, OccasionalCar, eGo, etc. Many of these services have offices on college campuses, and considering just how often college students drive (some of them don’t drive for days at a time), car sharing might be one way to go.
Whatever you do, the best tip is to exercise patience. Making sure that your teen takes time to find a car sets a great example – this is the kind of big decision that shouldn’t be done haphazardly.