Buying Your Kid’s First Car: Is Today the Day?

Parents are always worried about the day when their teenage kids are finally ready to drive. They know what will happen next. They are going to cajole their parents to buy them either a secondhand car or a motorcycle at the very least. When you are ready to take that first step, there’s going to be a range of emotions—from fear to excitement and back to fear again. The first year of teenage driving will always be an exciting prospect for the parents and the teenagers. Don’t worry, with proper information, you’ll make the correct and practical decisions.

When should your teenage kids start driving? What is the right ride for them? Who pays for the car? How should they maintain their ride? You have so many questions and yet, you know that it is time to give them their own ride. After all, that’s still safer than letting them take public transportation where a lot of different things can happen.

When Should Your Kids Start Driving?

It all depends on the legal age for driving in your state. Some allow teens as young as 16 years old to be behind the wheel. Others will require the more usual 18 years old for driving. Public schools teach kids how to drive so that they usually have a general idea of what will happen once they sit in the driver’s seat.

How responsible are your kids? Are they responsible enough that they put on their seatbelt when they ride with you? Do they drive fast when you tried to make them take the wheel for practice driving? Sure, they’re responsible when it comes to cleaning the car and taking it to the maintenance guy, but being responsible doesn’t equate to being a safe driver.

Should You Get a Motorbike or a Car?

When buying a first ride for your teenage kids, you have to choose between letting them have their own two-wheeled motorcycle or four-wheel sedan. Which is which? What’s the right vehicle for your kids? First, you need to let them know that they have to be responsible for taking their ride to a motorcycle repair shop or the car dealership when there’s a problem. This will not be your obligation.

Second, how far do you want your kids to drive? If it’s just around town, a motorcycle is a good choice as long as they don’t take where it is not allowed like the freeway. A sedan is a great college freshman car because it will allow them to drive to and from the university every weekend.

How Can You Set the Rules?

Put down rules for your teenage kids to follow. This means they have to practice driving with you until you feel confident they can drive safely. This means never texting or calling when they are behind the wheel. Most especially, this means that they should let you know where they are going and that having a car or a motorbike doesn’t mean they can go anywhere they want and with whoever they want.

If you think they still have to take driving lessons, don’t hesitate to enroll them in one. Their safety is of utmost priority. You’d want to make sure they are following the road rules even if you’re not in the car with them.

Who Should Pay for the Vehicle?

car dealership showroom

Unless your kids are working part-time, they won’t be able to buy a car from their savings. A good deal would be to let them save up for the down payment. They can save from their Christmas gifts, allowance, and part-time jobs. You need to shoulder the bigger chunk of the vehicle’s amount, of course. But that’s where the buck stops. You need to negotiate with your kids.

Who will pay for the gas? How about the maintenance? How about if the vehicle needs major repairs? Who will shoulder the insurance? You need to find an equal footing when it comes to financing and maintaining the car. A good deal would be for your kids to shoulder the daily expenses—gas and maintenance. As for the insurance, you can bundle that with your own. You may also chip in when the car or bike needs major repair.

Buying your kids’ first car or motorbike is a big deal. You need to decide on it as a family. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to trust. How much do you trust that your kids will make the right decisions once they are behind the wheel? Once you have the answer to this, it becomes easier to sign that check.

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