Tis the season for a new car… whether you’re one of the families who presents your teen with a new car on Christmas with a big shiny bow, or your teen is painstakingly saving up Christmas money to buy it themselves, there are a few things to consider to make sure you’re choosing just the right car for your teen, and some ways to help them keep that car tidy and running for as long as possible.
My brother turned 16 this year. He’s an awesome kid– A student, hard worker, soccer star. It seemed only fitting that at age 16, he really needed his own car… mostly because when you’re spending hours upon hours at soccer practice, it kind of helps when mom isn’t playing personal taxi service.
But when it came to car buying, there was a LOT to consider, like…
Safety and Reliability
Obviously, this should be a no-brainer, right? You want it safe, you want it reliable, and you want it to last. You also don’t want your teen stranded on the side of the road with a major car problem. But making sure the car is safe and reliable goes beyond just checking stats and making sure it’s all good and up-to-date on any required inspections. One major way to ensure that it’s safe is to buy from someone you trust. Getting a recommendation is a great start, but seeking out reviews and getting to know other people who have purchased cars from them, and how well that’s gone for them months down the road, is always a great idea. While you may be able to find a great, reliable, affordable used car on something like Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace, you want to be sure that you’re buying a car you can trust. Regardless of where you shop from, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion by taking the car to a mechanic you trust and getting a once-over before you buy it. It may cost you a little bit of money up front to get that inspection done, but it may save you from buying a lemon in the long run.
Manual or Automatic?
There are pros and cons to both, so a lot depends on you and your driver. I personally learned to drive an automatic, and never learned anything else. My brother, on the other hand, learned how to drive on a manual car and is able to drive either one. Manual is a really good option because no matter what car your teen gets in, they’ll be able to pick up driving it a lot quicker. Drivers who have learned on manual cars can purchase a manual or an automatic in the future and be just fine, and manual cars are a great choice for teens because it truly makes it harder to text and drive… can you really have your hands on your cell phone while trying to shift? Not the easiest thing to do… Manual cars are also typically cheaper, so if price is a big factor, teaching your teen to drive a manual may be a really good choice! For manual cars, fuel economy is a big one, and they’re usually more affordable to repair and maintain in the long run. That said, automatics have their perks in that they’re so much easier to learn how to drive– no missed shifts, no stalls or jerking. Pressing the clutch pedal can also make a stick shift car a little more difficult, and automatic car drivers don’t have to worry about hills quite as much. This one boils down to personal preference of you and your teen, for sure.
Cost… now and later on.
Cost goes far beyond the price tag on the car. While you may be looking at a great deal now, you have to consider the costs in the long run. What are the typical expenses to maintain the car? Are parts for it easy to find or harder to find? What’s the gas mileage like? Does it take regular fuel or a specialty or premium fuel? These are all things to consider, especially if your cash-strapped teen will be responsible for maintenance costs. Also consider if the type of car will increase the insurance rates– some sports cars, for example, can be a little bit pricier when it comes down to your insurance costs.
One problem I ran into a lot with my beloved Kia was that if it broke down, the parts were harder to find and more expensive, meaning my car spent longer in the shop and I paid more for a repair that would have taken another car less shop time and less money. Why? Because a year after my car was made, they totally redesigned it, making the older parts much more difficult to find. The car was well worth the added cost, but it’s something to consider up front when purchasing a car– what’s the shelf life like, and how much do the repairs for frequently-replaced parts cost?
What is your teen looking for, what are you looking for, and where can you compromise?
Depending on if you’re paying for the car or your teen is, this may not matter a whole lot to you, but finding out the main things your teen wants in a car is a great start at finding the right car for them. If your teen wants to drive a sedan, but you have visions of them helping you haul around gear in a truck, finding a middle ground may be a good fit. If they want a kicking bass, but you would like something nice and quiet for your neighborhood, that’s an important discussion to have, too. Open dialogue is a great way to start making the right steps in buying a car. If you’re suprising your teen with the car, you can get a feel for what they like by keeping your ears open to what they have to say about your car, their friends’ vehicles, and cars they see on the road.
None of this matters, though, if the car isn’t taken care of.
Seriously. I made a big mistake with my car as a teen by not maintaining it as well as I should have. Not only did I sometimes have delayed maintenance on it, I also wasn’t that careful about clutter or cleanliness in the car. To the other extreme, my brother spends more time cleaning his car than he does driving his car, and almost every drive, even a 5 minute one, requires a thorough washing afterwards.
If you want to make sure your teen’s car gets a great shelf life, and make sure that it has a good resale value down the road, car maintenance is a must, which means sticking to the recommendations on oil changes and routine inspections. It means more than that, though– it means keeping it clean.
The best way to get a great car wash is to hand wash the vehicle. It’s a good way to pay special attention to things like whether or not you have rust starting to form somewhere, helping you really get in nooks and crannies that an automatic car wash can’t get to, and really making sure you know your car, inside and out. Encouraging your teen to get out there and hand wash their car is a great way to encourage them to be responsible and proactive about their car’s care, and that’s the best way to ensure it has a great shelf life.
If you’re buying a car for your teen, or have recently purchased one, or if they’re buying one themselves, the best way to make sure they know how to maintain the car is to get this awesome Armor All Car Care Gift Pack. It’s a reusable car wash bucket that comes with everything they need to keep their car nice and clean, but the one thing I personally found most valuable in it was the Pro Secrets Booklet, which had handy checklists for interior and exterior care, as well as explaining exactly how to do things to care for your car.
Did you know that you should never wax a car that’s sitting in the sun? The best way to wax it is in the shade, because a car in sun can get too hot, absorbing the wax. I had NO idea about this until I was reading the Pro Secrets Booklet in the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack.
In addition to the Pro Secrets Booklet, the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack contains everything you need, from 16 ounces of Ultra Shine Wash and Wax, which gives your car lasting shine and protection, to a Mircofiber Towel and Sponge that are easy on the surface of the car.
It doesn’t stop there, though– there’s plenty of car care items for the inside of the car, too. The glass wipes are great for keeping windows and mirrors free of any fingerprints, residue, and other gunk that can get on them, and the included Cleaning Wipes are amazing for every surface of the car, from seats to steering wheel.
You can take advantage of the $3 off digital coupon offer for the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack from Walmart, while supplies last! But, the savings don’t stop there, because in the back of the Armor All Care Care Gift Pack’s Pro Secrets Booklet, there are MORE coupons that will help you or your teen save on future purcahses of Armor All products. It’s a great deal all around. When I bought the gift set, which comes in the awesome reusable car wash bucket, in the automotive care center at my local Walmart store, the employee back there told me that he recommends it to everyone because the value of the product inside is SO amazing compared to pricing all of it out separately, and it’s why I bought one for each car owner in my family for Christmas (including one for myself).
Whether or not you’ll be footing the bill for your teen’s car this holiday season or in the next few months, you should definitely put the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack on your Christmas shopping list, because it’s an essential to starting them off on the right foot when it comes to car care.
What was the BEST thing about your first car, and what was your biggest consideration when buying one for your teen? Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to head to Walmart and pick up an Armor All Car Care Gift Pack for the car lover or new driver on YOUR Christmas list, and take advantage of the $3 off digital coupon offer for the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack from Walmart, while supplies last!