How to Choose the Best Car for Your College-Aged Child

Are you thinking about buying your child a car but aren’t sure which type of vehicle will best suit their needs? There are many different types of cars on the market today, each with unique pros and cons. Your teen may be ready to drive themselves to school, work, and back home every day – or they may need a reliable second car for weekend getaways and evening drives. Regardless of what your teen will primarily use the car for, there are a few things you’ll want to consider when choosing the right one. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

What Makes a Good First Car for a College-aged Person?

The two most important factors to remember when choosing a first car for your child are affordability and safety. While your teen may want a fancy sports car or a high-performance vehicle, these typically cost significantly more than a standard car, making it difficult for them to afford the vehicle. Plus, sports cars and high-performance vehicles are inherently less safe, which makes them a poor choice for a first car. The best choice for your teen’s first car will depend on their individual needs – what they plan to do with the vehicle and how many people will be riding in it. For example, a car that is best for a single driver may not be the best option for a parent who must regularly transport multiple children in the car.

Decide Between Buying & Leasing

If your child is driving the car regularly, you may want to consider purchasing the vehicle. Owning a car has certain advantages, such as low monthly payments and the ability to customize the vehicle to your teen’s specific needs and tastes. However, it also requires a large upfront payment and a significant amount of money for fuel and maintenance. When considering whether to buy or lease a car, you’ll also want to consider the vehicle’s resale value. If your child decides to sell the car when they are done with it, the lower the original price, the easier it will be to find a new owner for the vehicle. As you research cars, you’ll want to check out dealerships such as Edmunds and talk to the salespeople to get a sense of the variety on the market and also see if buying or leasing will be more worth it for you. 

Hybrid Electric Cars

Hybrid electric cars are one potential option for the first car for your teen. These vehicles are typically priced lower than traditional gas-powered cars and have lower maintenance costs. However, hybrid vehicles charge slowly, often taking 8 hours or more to fully charge, which may not be well-suited for daily driving needs. Hybrids are also not exempt from inspections and other state requirements, which may not be a good fit for your child’s needs if they frequently drive on long trips in rural areas.

Traditional Gas-Powered Cars

If your teen frequently drives long distances, a traditional gas-powered car may be their best choice. These vehicles have a higher top speed and more extended driving range than hybrid vehicles, making them a better fit for long trips. Other gas-powered cars have a lower upfront cost, which makes them more accessible for your teen to afford. However, gas-powered cars have higher maintenance costs, making them less desirable for your teen’s first car. Additionally, some of these cars are not exempt from regular state inspections, which may cause problems if your child frequently drives in areas with more stringent regulations.

Digital and Smart Vehicle Options

Some vehicles have additional features and options to connect with your teen’s smartphone. This allows you to monitor their driving habits, including their driving time, average speed, and more. Some vehicles also offer additional smart features that will enable your teen to remotely start the car and turn on the air conditioning, among other things. However, these features come at a higher price than a standard car. Nevertheless, suppose your teen is driving a vehicle with these additional features. In that case, you may be able to help them avoid tickets by monitoring their driving habits and nagging them about risky behaviors.

Wrapping Up

When choosing a first car for your teen, you’ll want to take their long-term needs and driving habits into account and their short-term financial situation. Many different vehicles are on the market today, with a wide range of prices, sizes, and features. For example, a hybrid electric car may be the best choice for your teen if they have short driving distances, but if they have long commutes, a gas-powered vehicle will be more cost-effective. Whatever car you choose, ensure that your teen gets regular state inspections, including the yearly safety inspection and the emissions test (in states requiring them).

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*This is a collaborative article

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