Teenagers often want their own vehicle upon earning their driver’s license. While it gives parents a break from handing their keys over or driving their carless child around, teen car ownership also opens up quite a few questions and worries. Safety and financial concerns typically come to mind when this discussion comes up. Here are some tips to guide you through the process.

Your Teen’s Driving Habits

Is your teen ready for their first car? Sitting in the passenger seat while your teen drives may help you to determine if they are ready for this major responsibility. You might want to check off whether your teen does the following:

  • Buckles their seatbelt
  • Checks and adjusts their mirrors
  • Obeys speed limits
  • Drives carefully in busy areas
  • Looks for pedestrians
  • Avoids expressing road rage
  • Keeps electronics out of sight
  • Doesn’t let passengers distract them

You may have your teen drive in both low-traffic and high-traffic areas. Have them drive you on a highway during rush hour to see how they handle stress, such as lane merging, some of the 3.5 million truck drivers in the country, and individuals who drive recklessly and beep at them. Seeing how your teenage driver handles basic but stressful aspects of driving will help you to determine if they’re ready for car ownership and the many responsibilities it entails.

Financial Decisions

Another part of car ownership involves financial responsibility. Who will pay for the purchase of the car along with its upkeep, repairs, gas, and insurance? Vehicles are expensive to purchase and maintain, especially for a teenager who may only work part-time. Have a family discussion about how finances will be handled. You may decide to delegate certain expenses to the adults and certain ones to your teenager as long as they follow your rules.

These rules may include:

  • A limited number of passengers allowed in the vehicle
  • A curfew
  • Driving distance limits

Buy New, Buy Used, or Lease?

The next part of the process you’ll need to decide on is whether you’ll buy a new vehicle, buy a used vehicle, or lease a car. Each option has its perks and its downsides.

Buying New

  • Perks: Newer electronic and safety features, customizations, easy to buy, lower insurance rates, warranty coverage.
  • Downsides: The value of the vehicle will immediately decrease, higher monthly payments.

Buying Used

  • Perks: Save money, no exaggerated fees, lower insurance premiums. You can also buy a used vehicle through a private party or a dealership, as 40 million used car deals are undergone in these ways each year.
  • Downsides: Could be unreliable, may require more maintenance and repair costs, have to compromise.


  • Perks: Low maintenance and repair costs, lower monthly payments, tax benefits, better solutions if a car accident takes place.
  • Downsides: Limited mileage, can’t keep the vehicle, requires good credit, higher insurance costs, and more fees.

Best Cars for Teens

According to Caranddriver.com, the best cars for teens include the Volkswagen Golf, the Toyota Camry, the Mazda 3, and the Subaru Impreza. These vehicles were selected due to their superior safety features and ratings, lower prices, and functionality, among other features.

As a parent, trust your instincts. What size and model would be best for your teen? They will need something practical, safe, and reliable. Sit down and figure out the best vehicle for your child based on safety, price, and how you’ll be purchasing or leasing a vehicle.

Car Ownership Responsibilities

As you’re in the process of finding, purchasing, and bringing home your teen’s vehicle, make sure to go over the responsibilities your teen will have safety-wise and financially. If you’ve decided to invest in a Mercedes Benz for your teenager, remind them that the brand’s value was at 23.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. They need to understand just how expensive vehicles are as well as the responsibilities delegated to them. Who will pay for yearly inspections and vehicle registrations? Is your teen responsible for paying insurance? What happens if they cause an accident?

It’s also important your teen knows what to keep in their vehicle at all times. You may help them put together emergency and first aid kits in the event of an incident or other type of emergency. You may write down a few emergency phone numbers they can keep in their car as well.

If your teen understands their responsibilities as a car owner and operator, they will be more responsible when it comes to driving. Be sure to have an open and honest discussion as a family to discuss these responsibilities as well as financial costs, rules, and safe driving habits.