High school graduation is just around the corner and many parents may be thinking about a new car for the new grad. Here are some things to consider when you’re out shopping for a new vehicle for a young driver.
Bigger Not Necessarily Better
As a parent, your gut instinct may be to put as much metal around your child as possible for maximum protection should they be involved in an accident. Consider, however, that large vehicles can be harder to handle. Larger vehicles have a higher center of gravity so are more prone to rollovers. One final note on larger vehicles – more space means more passengers, and potentially more distractions.
New vs Used
Newer vehicles generally offer the best safety features so if your budget can handle it, buy new. If your budget is tight, do your research for vehicles that offer the most safety for your buck. One feature to look for is electronic stability control (ESC). This helps the driver maintain control on curves and slick roads. The good news is that in 2012, this feature became mandatory in all passenger cars and light trucks. That gives you a starting point in terms of year for a used vehicle. Another feature to look for is a “side curtain” air bag. Many vehicles come with side air bags but these are small pillows that really only protect the torso. Side curtains not only protect the head, they offer a layer of protection from flying debris like broken glass. The best rule of thumb when making the decision between new and used: buy the most safety your budget will allow.
Safety Over Sporty
Opt for safety over sporty when selecting a vehicle. The temptation to test a car’s power and speed are far too great for the young, inexperienced, and easily influenced driver. You may have to deal with a resentful teen for a while but you’ll rest easy knowing their safer. A fair trade off. Additionally, sports cars tend to carry higher insurance premiums for young drivers.
Ultimately, the best advice when it comes to buying a car for your teen is to stretch your budget to allow for the safest vehicle. Really, the cargo can’t get any more precious.