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How to Choose the Right Vehicle for a Teen Driver

Once your teenager begins driving it’s a whole new adventure as a parent. They grow up so fast! Choosing a car for your teen, or helping them choose a car, is a different experience than selecting a vehicle for yourself. While your teen may go for the coolest ride they can find, you will want to consider first and foremost safety. Price and fuel economy are also important, let’s dive (or should we say drive) in!

Safety Features.

Many parents assume a larger car automatically means it is safer, which can often be true but there are also some risks to consider with larger vehicles. For example, SUVs can have more of a rolling risk and also more seats allow for more passengers. Statistics show the more friends a teen has in a car with them, the higher the crash risk. Overall, mid-sized sedans are shown in reports to be the safest cars – not too big and not too small. Although older and used cars are more affordable, they may lack some of the newly required safety features that cars built within the past few years now have. Some of the important features that the safest rated cars for 2020 have included:

  • electronic stability control
  • automatic emergency braking
  • blind-spot warning systems
  • forward collision warning
  • strong obstacle avoidance performance
  • limited acceleration

Also, check for how many airbags the vehicle has –The more the better! Rearview cameras are also an excellent, helpful safety feature for a less experienced driver.


Close-up of female hands on steering wheel while driving a car


The Test Drive.

It’s a good idea to join your teen to test-drive vehicles and be that second set of eyes to assess the options. If you happen to have a mechanic friend it’s also recommended to bring them along. Make sure to conduct a thorough walk-through to check through rust, head and tail lights, dents, scratches. During the test drive look for important purchasing factors that may include comfort and safety, good braking system, suspension, GPS, radio, Bluetooth and climate control. It’s helpful to bring a checklist along to remember what to look for!

Comparing Fuel Economy.

A teen’s schedule is typically packed with after-school activities, social events, and school itself. So, it’s safe to say fuel economy will be important for helping your teen stay within a budget. As a general rule, the smaller the vehicle, the more fuel-efficient it will be, but fuel economy consumer reports are great ways to compare car makes and models to determine fuel efficiency.

Negotiating the deal.

Doing your research is a foolproof way to build the foundation of your car negotiations. Being informed on what the vehicle you are interested in is worth, will help give you leverage in your negotiations. Tell the dealer you are shopping around but interested in making a deal. You should know ahead of time what your highest price is and start at a number that gives you room to negotiate before you reach the top end of your budget. It’s a good idea to visit multiple dealerships to get a variety of offers and have further bargaining points, by letting the salespeople know you have seen a better price elsewhere.


Car parked on road,Car parked on street


Insuring the vehicle.

When insuring a car for a teen, your rates are bound to change but it’s essential to make sure your teen gets covered. You may want to consider accompanying your teen to the insurance brokers office the first time they go to insure their vehicle.

If a learner will be driving your vehicle, as part of changes to insurance that took effect on September 1, 2019, you will need to list them on your policy and the learner premium will apply. The learner premium ranges from $130 to $250 per year, depending on where you live. Find out more about the learner premium.

We are here to help you navigate the right auto insurance policy for your teen.  Connect with one of our agents today by phone, email, or walk into one of our 46 locations serving communities throughout British Columbia!

© Johnston Meier Insurance Agencies Group 2024

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