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Little Deuce Coupe: Your Teen's First Car

For most teens, a car is a symbol of independence, a giant metal testimony to their ability to go where they want without having to depend on Mom and Dad for transportation.  For most parents, it’s a symbol of higher insurance costs, repair bills and late night breakdowns.  While I won't say that it doesn't have to be this way, there are things you can do to make coping with that first car easier.

  • Take your teen to see your insurance agent. If you are going to carry him on your insurance, find out what the additional cost will be and agree with your teen how much of that cost you expect him to cover.  Also take time to explore things he can do to reduce his rates, such as drive safely, make good grades, or drive an older car.
  • Encourage your teen to save money for his first car rather than try to get a loan.  Most jobs held by teenagers are precarious, and there is no guarantee that he will be able to make payments on a car or keep up the insurance.  That's why it’s important to have the money up front.
  • If possible, have your teen take a basic car maintenance class.  It is important that he know how to care for his first major investment.  It would also be a good idea for him to talk to a mechanic about the types of repair and maintenance costs he can anticipate each year, so that he can budget accordingly.
  • Agree on some ground rules.  Where will the car be stored?  Who will pay for the increased premiums if he gets in an accident?   If he owns the car, can he still be grounded from using it?  Does having a car change his curfew?

The bottom line is that, while a car is a symbol of freedom, it is also a great source of responsibility, and your teen needs to understand that.

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