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What you need to know about your teen's first vehicle

Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 9:31:31 AM

As the school year continues, many parents may be looking to let their teens drive themselves to class. For many families, the perfect time to buy their child his or her first car is now. However, it is important to remember a few key elements before taking this major step, according to Consumer Reports.

With affordable auto financing, used car deals and other incentives, buyers have options - especially when shopping with a teen in mind. Even so, this is a big first step, and Home Loan Investment Bank's Christine Dikdan offered some crucial advice, should this be an option for you. For starters, she recommended going conservative with the first car.

Dikdan suggested "a reliable and safe late-model used vehicle, preferably an economy sedan or small SUV. Why? Price point - which includes total price of vehicle and insurance costs - and reliability, which includes getting from point A to point B in a safe manner."

Don't forget about the financial implications of vehicle ownership, either. As a parent, you may be tempted to cover the costs on your own, but you should keep your child involved.

"After an initial decision on maximum price and style of vehicle has been determined by the parents - if they are contributing financial resources for any part or total cost of the vehicle on behalf of the child - my recommendation is to involve the child through the entire process," Dikdan explained. "This means researching vehicle and insurance pricing and options online, and making the phone calls required or at least listening in. This process can be intimidating, and it is not taught in schools. These are real life skills that will hopefully be able to be completed by the teen with a minimum of assistance the second time around."

While the actual monetary amount your child contributes will be based on a variety of factors, think about enforcing the importance of money management.

"I always have thought the more financially invested the child is, the more responsibility he or she will take in the vehicle," Dikdan noted. "Upkeep and maintenance are key factors in vehicle ownership, as well as the respect and privilege of owning and driving a vehicle requires."

With this in mind, you can make sure your teen's new-vehicle experience is as smooth and successful as possible.