Tips for Buying a Teen Their First Car

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I’m a mom who will have a teen driver in just under a year. Just typing that sentence made me queasy. So thank you to today’s sponsor, DriveTime, for understanding the nervousness of parents like me, and helping make the purchase of a car for a first-time driver easier for moms like me.

Tips for buying a teen their first car like a used car from DriveTime....

My son turned fourteen last month and in the state of Tennessee, you can get a learner’s permit as a beginner driver when you turn fifteen. 

As scary as that is to us, we want to make sure he has everything that can make his transition into a good and capable driver made available to him, like taking a driver’s education course and plenty of practice. Even though as a parent, it brings a whole new set of worries, becoming a first-time driver is a really BIG deal.  

It’s exciting. 

It’s monumental.

The biggest thing for a teen driver, though, is their first car.

If you have a soon to be teen driver here are some tips that will help you buy your new driver their first car…

Tips for Buying a Teen Their First Car

Tips for buying your teen their first car like a used car from DriveTime...

Do Your Homework

What type of vehicle do they want — a car, truck, or SUV? This is a question that needs to be researched beforehand as well, then research consumer ratings and safety records of the types/makes/models of vehicles to narrow your choices down.

Talk to your insurance agent with your teen, get quotes and possibly shop around for the best rates.

With a little research and prep work, the first time buying experience will be much easier.

What Are Your Must-Haves?

What are some of the essentials you want in a car? What your teen thinks is a must-have, may not be what you as a parent think is a must-have. I do think air conditioning is important, so that goes without saying, but here are three things that are truly must-haves:

  • Fuel economy of at least 25 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. You want a car that is cheap or economical on gas.
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) is a MUST. ESC helps drivers avoid crashes by reducing the danger of skidding or losing control as a result of over-steering.
  • Fewer cylinders… inexperienced drivers don’t need a lot of power or a sports car. Leave that for your kids to buy for themselves after they’ve become more experienced drivers/adults. 

Know what Can You Afford

Have an open and honest talk with your teen about the cost of a vehicle, how much you or they can afford. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Will there be a down-payment? If so how much and who is paying it?
  • How much can you and/or your teen afford in monthly payments?
  • How much money will your teen need to budget for gas and maintenance a month?
  • How much will auto insurance be?

Armed with the above tips you’re now ready to embark on your teenager’s biggest moment of their lives to date… going to the car dealership to shop and test drive their first car.

DriveTime logo used car for teen driver...

I’m of the belief that a teen’s first car should be a used car. We absolutely want a safe and dependable car for our son, but it is a fact that beginner drivers are well… beginners. One of the best places for used cars is DriveTime.

About DriveTime

With over 139 dealerships across the country and thousands of vehicles in stock, it’s easy to find the perfect car for your teen. If you have any credit problems, DriveTime is the nation’s largest dealer helping people with credit issues purchase a vehicle.

They work hard to ensure that the vehicles on their lot will provide you safe and reliable transportation, giving parents like me some much-needed peace of mind. Each and every DriveTime vehicle is inspected with care by their specially trained technicians for our safety and security.

Most of the dealership staff is college educated – they aren’t there to push a sale on you, but rather to help you find the vehicle that is right for you.

DriveTime’s online auto loan application is completely personalized to you… including credit score and required down payment. In fact, they are one of the only dealerships to provide customers with their exact down payment amount. Watch this video to learn more about DriveTime’s approval process.


To all the parents embarking on this journey for the first time, know that you are not alone. Let DriveTime help you make this process easier.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the article, Donna. For me, safety is the highest priority. My daughter drives her grandmother’s old car, a 2001 Rav4. Unfortunately, this doesn’t have the greatest safety record. I’ve been scouring the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) site for older cars that have a good safety rating. I still won’t ride with her though. I’ve got PTSD from being with her when she got into a fender-bender!

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