Aaron Widmar
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Why You Should Reconsider Buying Your Teen a Used Car

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Young teen driver behind the wheel of safe new car

One of the big milestones in your life as a parent will be the moment you realize that your teenager is old enough to drive. While your mind whirls with concerns for their safety and your bank account, you’ll eventually have to consider, “What car should they drive?

You may intend to hand down your old car so you can buy a new one. Or you may look at local used car dealerships for a well-worn, affordable option. You could even have your young adult pay for their own ride.

In all of these cases, your mind is on your wallet, not necessarily on your teenager. If you’re planning on buying your teen a used car, you might to reconsider. Here’s why.

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What new cars offer your teen driver that used cars don’t

Your teenage driver is gazing at you with those puppy eyes (which you have spent 15 years learning to resist) and begging for a new car for Christmas. But, you know better than that. Why buy your kid a brand new sports car when they’re inevitably going to damage it? That’s why it’s smarter to buy them a car that’s already “broken in” … right?

Sara Lacey of Kicking Tires shared an experience from her life that compelled her to reconsider handing down the family used car to her son. She brought up some excellent points that are worth considering. While a used car may seem more practical, these new car features could make you reconsider buying your teen a used car.

Teen driver with broken old sedan on side of the road
You don’t want your young driver to wind up on the side of the road!
Photo: mgg via CC

Top-of-the-line safety features

Obviously, you’re concerned for your teen’s well-being. That’s why you’re so anxious about the fact that they’re learning to drive. So, why would you leave their safety in the hands of a 10-year-old jalopy that’s lacking in today’s current safety tools?

With innovative features available on new models that monitor blind spots, guide trajectory, automatically apply the brakes, and result in better crash test ratings, wouldn’t you be willing to pay extra to know your young driver is protected on the road?

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A clean history

You’re so busy scrutinizing every dent, scratch, rust, groan, and rattle you can find on that used car to wonder if perhaps buying a used car is an unnecessary risk. The price tag might look like a steal, but who knows what mysteries lurk under the hood of that aging sedan?

With a new car, you won’t need to worry about the car’s crash history or how well it has been maintained. There won’t be any surprises waiting for your teen when they’re away from home on a road trip with friends.

Full warranty coverage

Used cars simply don’t have the comprehensive warranty that new cars offer. If you want the reassurance of having powertrain and bumper-to-bumper protection for as long as possible, you’ll only get that on a brand-new car.

The older a vehicle is, the less warranty coverage it carries — if any at all. Many warranties aren’t transferrable to second or third owners. Plus, the vehicle will require more repairs over time, which can make an inexpensive used car actually expensive to maintain.

More control via customization

Unless you want your teen blaring that premium stereo and revving that high-performance engine, you’ll want to pick and choose which features your child’s car will have. You won’t have that ability when buying your teen a used car — where what you see is what you get — but you would if you visited a new car dealership offering all the latest trims and configurations.

Newer tools like Ford MyKey allow you to set controls on your teen’s speed limit, radio volume, and seat belt usage. These also allow you to control your child’s habits as they learn to drive.

The bottom line

Now, I’m not suggesting you run out and buy a new car for your child’s 16th birthday. There are still ways you can be a wise shopper and still let your teen drive a newer, safer vehicle.

Perhaps it’s time to buy a new car for yourself, which you can share with your child until they can save up for their own car. Or, you can co-lease a new car with your teen.

Whatever your decision is, make sure that it brings you peace of mind and keeps your child safe on the road.