A colleague of mine, who is much older than I am and has teenage kids, is thinking about how he wants to get his eldest child a used car that can be their own. This is common for most middle and upper class families. A few extra thousand dollars to buy a used car can go a long way to helping a teenager grow into adulthood.
Yet, that doesn’t make it an easy decision. In fact, there are a lot of variables. How new of a car do you get? What make? What model? What are the goals for buying this car? How long should you expect it to last? While I am no expert, I thought I would share my perspective on what to buy your child for their first car.
Before any of you assume I came from a rich family, I didn’t. I was from a middle class family where both of my parents worked. I did have a nice car though. My first car was a Mustang convertible. It had a lot of miles and the only reason I got it was because it was my Dad’s car before that. He upgraded and I was fortunate enough to turn 16 around the right time. I had actually wanted a 1962 Ford Falcon, but it would have been a lot of work to fix up. I loved the mustang until it came time to go to college. It was nice on those cool summer days, but when it is really hot out, it’s too hot to have the top down. It was also very impractical. Moving in and out of college was a chore, having to make twice as many trips to the storage facility as any of my other friends with SUV’s or wagons.
My wife’s first car was the opposite. She had a ford ranger and it was a deep purple. While I still make fun of her for the color because she is far from a “girly-girl”, it was very practical and affordable. Her family later upgraded her car to a nissan sedan. We used that car through college and it was very good on gas mileage.
A first car for a teenager doesn’t have to fit a particular mold, but there are a few characteristics that every first car should have:
It may seem like a big decision, but it’s just like any other. Do a little research and make the best choice you can make.