So You're a Parent?

Is Your Teen Ready for a Car?

Written by Rudri Patel

A first car is an important milestone for teenagers. A car they can call their own is a way to assert independence, but is your teen ready?

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A first car is an important milestone for teenagers. A car they can call their own is a way to assert independence, but is your teen ready?

As a responsible parent, you might hesitate to buy your teen a car. Since the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-to 19-year-olds than among any other age group, parents are right to pause before making a car purchase. It is a difficult transition to move from chauffeuring your teen around to permitting him to have and manage his own set of wheels. However, you can assess your teen’s behavior and lifestyle to determine whether a car is in his best interest.

Ask yourself these six questions to determine if your teen is ready for a new car:

Is She Responsible?

How often are you reminding your teen to complete chores or finish homework? If she demonstrates initiative and is self-motivated, a car will serve as a reward for this behavior. If she holds a part-time job, observe whether she goes to work on time and treats it as a commitment. When a teen shirks basic responsibilities, it might be more prudent to wait on the car. A responsible teen needs to prove she can drive the vehicle safely, make curfew and not act dangerously or carelessly on the road.

Has She Earned Her License?

It might be hasty to purchase a car for her before she has her driver’s license. For driver safety, make certain you’ve observed her in various driving circumstances, as well as in inclement weather before she drives alone or with friends. When she is ready to take her test, consult the online practice tests on For the teen driver who already has her license, it is important to emphasize the value of defensive driving.

Does She Need a Car Now?

Parents must consider the reasons why a teen needs a car and determine the urgency of it. Evaluate whether your teen needs the car for work or school or if it is more of a fun purchase. If there isn’t a pressing need to buy the car now, it is better to wait. This extra time might incentivize your teen to secure a job or motivate her to show why the car is needed.

Who Will be Financially Responsible for the Car?

An average new car costs around $30,000, and a used car, around $14,000. Either choice is an expensive endeavor. Parents and teens need to discuss the financial arrangements regarding the car — purchase price, insurance, gas and maintenance — and how much, if any, their teen is willing to contribute. Keep your teenager financially vested in the car, as this will likely lead to more of an interest in maintaining and preserving the vehicle.

Have You Addressed Ground Rules?

Parents and teens need to discuss ground rules regarding ownership and driving behavior. Have a frank discussion about drinking and driving, texting and talking on the cellphone and the potential danger of transporting teen passengers. Devise a contract between you and your teen about these rules, as well as curfews, speeding and general guidelines for car usage. These discussions will help encourage safer driving behavior.

Have You Discussed Insurance and Car Maintenance?

Not only do parents have to decide if they want to financially invest in the vehicle, they also need to discuss the car insurance responsibility and maintenance. Who is going to pay for insurance? Who will take the car in for maintenance checks? Are you signing up for AAA in case of roadside emergencies? Answer these basic questions to prevent the hassle when a problem does arise.

Parents need to ask key questions before they purchase a car for their teen. Once they are satisfied with their checklist, parents will determine if they are ready for their teen to own a car.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

Quiet is a necessary thread that helps navigate my days. Without some solitude, my irritation rises and creativity suffers. I continue to work toward incorporating meditation in my life. 

What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

A morning run helps clear my mind and provides the pulse for clarity during the day. I still struggle to deal with uncertainty and learning to let go. 

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

This is a complicated question where the answer depends on the particular season of my life. Right now, I love how motherhood redefines my notion of ambition. My achievements and goals are evolving. Age and experience tend to tinker with the way I view success. 

We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?

I tend to gravitate toward worst case scenarios and jump to conclusions without letting situations unfold. It is still a process for me to approach uncertain moments with a quieter approach.

“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I love my willingness to appreciate the grace in the ordinary. The everyday delights of my life foster my relationship with gratitude.

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About the author

Rudri Patel

Rudri Patel is a former lawyer turned writer and editor, wife, mother and observer. She's written for Brain, Child; Huffington Post; First Day Press; and Mamalode.

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