Buying a Good First Car for a Teenager: 10 Tips

Parents love buying things for their kids, and that applies to cars too. If you’re looking for a good first car for your teen, this blog will give you 10 key things to look for.

Buying a Good First Car for a Teenager

Oh the joys of parenthood. Watching your child go from a cute little toddler into a full-grown teenager can be a beautiful thing. And then they get to driving age and the nervous and anxious parent behaviors start to kick in. You want to keep your kid safe no matter what, but then they start asking you for a car. And the thought of them hitting the road solo makes you want to hire a bodyguard and never let them leave your sight.

For many kids, it’s common and even anticipated that their parents will be buying them a car for their high school graduation. And it’s a perfect way as a parent to be able to show them how proud you are of them, while also ensuring that they get the safest, most reliable car available.

Picking the best first car for teens can be tricky. It’s a fine line between maximizing safety and getting the most bang for your buck. Follow these 10 tips and you’ll be certain that you’re getting the car that you teen needs to make their start in the world.

Picking the best first car for teens can be tricky. It’s a fine line between maximizing safety and getting the most bang for your buck.

1. Safety

Before you consider anything else, safety is the number one thing to think about. As a parent, this is likely your main concern for your teen’s first car. You want to make sure that they are happy, but also feel comfortable knowing they will be safe behind the wheel.


It’s important to keep in mind that safety should be the most important deciding factor for you. Before you think about models or different features, know what car is going to be the safest for your kid. Any car you look at should meet minimum requirements of safety, such as functioning airbags, size and weight of the car, and power locks.

2. Price Range

Probably the second most important factor to consider is your budget. Generally, people are looking to spend under $10,000 on first cars for teens. New cars can be pretty expensive, but for a teenager you don’t need to break the bank to get a good first car.

Once you decide on your budget, you can narrow down the makes and models that you and your teenager are most interested in. Whatever price range you decide on, make sure that you don’t scrimp on safety just to save a few bucks. In the long run, the money you spend on a safer vehicle is worth it.

Search for Used Cars under $10,000

3. Visibility

This is key when it comes to how well your teen will be able to drive the car. Some vehicles have better sight lines than others. Depending on your child, certain cars may have better visibility than others.

Be sure and test drive the car with your teen before you buy. That way you can know if they can clearly see out of all the windows and find the blind spots easily. If they can’t see in one direction or their vision is blocked for some reason, it’s not the best car for them.

4. Size

Bigger, sport utility cars are making a comeback. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy the biggest car on the market for your teen. Be conscious of the size of the vehicle you choose. Although bigger cars can offer more protection in the case of an accident compared to compact cars.

Also consider the lifestyle of your teen when thinking about picking the right size. They may be involved in some activities or sports that require them to haul around extra equipment or need more storage. You don’t have to base your decision off of that, but it’s good to keep in mind.

5. Distractions

Try to chose a car that has minimal distractions. Distractions can be a major cause for accidents, especially in younger drivers. Picking a car that has Bluetooth capabilities and hands-free features is a good idea. That way your teen won’t be texting or using their hands for other things while driving.

You can even buy cars that have special features to minimize distractions and increase safety. For example, for sells cars that allows you to program keys so that the stereo never goes over a certain level while they are driving. It also limits the maximum speed they can reach. These features might be good options.

6. Cost Efficiency

When choosing good first cars for teens, it’s a good idea to think about how many miles to the gallon a car will get. Really it’s a good idea whenever you’re buying a car in general. A more efficient car will help your teen save on gas down the road. Generally, a fuel efficient car will have a government fuel economy rating of 25 miles per gallon combined city and highway driving.

7. Reliability

This is a good factor to consider when looking at new vs. used cars. You may want to buy a used car based on your budget, but it’s good to remember how much reliability that used car has. If it’s a little beat up and you’re not sure if it will start in a few weeks, chances are it’s not one of the best first cars for teenagers.

If you’re buying a new car, look at the ratings and reviews. Do other people tend to speak well of the car’s performance and reliability? This will give you a good indication of how well the car will do for your child.

8. Style

Although it may not be a life and death factor, the style of car that you chose is important, especially for your teenager. They want a car that will make them look cool and stylish, not a run down minivan that they got from their grandma. Ask your kid what kind of style they want and what they would look for in a car. Then use that information to pick out the best car for them.

9. Insurance

When your teen starts driving, your car insurance is bound to change. For many people this means their cost of insurance will go up. Be aware of what paperwork you need to provide your insurance agent to make sure your teen and the car are covered.

You can also see about getting discounts from your insurance provider. Many companies will provide discounts or advantages to teens who have good driving records or take a special course. Look into your options and see what you can do.

10. Ease of Driving

Lastly, you want to be aware of how comfortable and easy to drive the car is for your teen. Their first car should help them get used to driving and make them feel at ease. Knowing what your teen wants in a car and also knowing what will be the safest option for them can help you make a smarter decision about which car will be the easiest and safest to drive.

Models to Consider

Now that you know what things to look for when buying a first car, here are some good starter cars for teens that you can look at:

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but you should make your own list of cars that fit you and your teen’s needs. Every kid is unique, and their choice of car will be too. But if you stick to these 10 factors to consider, you’ll be sure you’re getting a great first car for your teenager.

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