Grumpy Vet

Buying First Car for Teen Driver

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Hi all.  Everyone was so great in helping me decipher my daughter's paychecks for wages and tips as a hostess a few weeks ago, I'm coming back to the well of knowledge asking for advice and experience please.

 

My 16 year old daughter has a job and is saving up for a car.  We are paying part and she is paying part of both the car and the expenses.  I want her to have "skin in the game" and understand finances a bit more than she does.  We live in a very diverse area where some of her friends will be given a ridiculously expensive car without having to work and some of her friends will go sans car.  I'm hoping to get feedback on cars in this thread and not really have a debate on why her first car should be a reclamation project from a demolition derby or a Ferrari.

 

My wife and I both have fairly large SUVs (sorry Earth).  I think my petite daughter is having a bit of a tough time w/ that.  My thinking is that we should find her vehicle in the near future so she has some time to get acquainted to not driving our car - but her car.  This should be helpful for the driving test and also once she takes the wheel by herself in early December.  I think we can insure the car under my wife and my name until she drives on her own because the largest part of this whole thing is the insurance for a teen driver.  This is much more expensive than a monthly payment for a car or anything else.

 

My criteria is high IIHS crash standards, reasonable insurance rates, good gas mileage and a mid sized - safe car with high reliability marks.  I've done a bunch of research and before I take my daughter out to look at vehicles - I'd love to hear any input you all may have.  Good or bad is appreciated on any experiences you have w/ these cars or if I have left a very obvious car off my list.  We are thinking 2014 with an unlikely stretch to 2015 for now.

 

Also - any pros / cons on where to buy?  CarFax site is very intuitive and easy to navigate.  Prices seem better than CarMax.  Would love to find a private sale and have a mechanic take a once over.  

 

First column is IIHS rating, then trim rating, Make/Model, avg price, rating for US News and rating for JD Power and their average.  Seems to be a big jump 14 -15.

 

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Thanks for any input.

 

GV

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I am a minority partner in a Mazda dealership and a 20+ year veteran in the biz.

 

If you have questions about a specific make/model, feel free to PM.

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I have a 2007 Hyundai Sonata I bought used in 2015 with 66k miles on it (it now has close to 90k).  It hasn't needed major repairs beyond tires and lights. 

 

Besides safety I would go with reliability/build quality.  Honda/Toyota are probably your best bets their, though Hyundai has improved drmatically and they are not the carmaker they were in the 90s. 

 

As for SUVs, the ones I've drive, I never liked the handling.    Also, being high off the ground they are more prone to rollover, such as when T-boned or when they swerve as compared to sedans.  Whenever I see vehicle flipped over on the road, 9/10 it seems to be an SUV. 

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We bought my son a 2009 Subaru Forester 3 years ago, basic model with a little over 100K miles on it.  He drives it really hard, it's been hit at least 4 times (allegedly none were his fault), and is pushing 200K but is still reliable and handling the punishment well.  Also seems to do very well in ice and snow and has decent ground clearance for the vehicle size. 

 

I'd also consider the newer Crosstrek although I don't know what their prices are used.  My wife got a new one last year and LOVES it.  She had a Honda Civic for 3 years and the Crosstrek has the same gas mileage, which was surprising.  Just like my son's Forester, it does great in snow and has 8" ground clearance which might be the highest among 4 door hatchbacks.

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My wife is going to be selling her 2016 Camaro SS with only 13k miles if you're interested. 

 

Great first car for a teenager. 

 

:headbang:

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Toyota Camry.  Mid size, reliable, safe.  Corolla are good too if you’re ok with something smaller.  Honda Accord also.

 

I wouldn’t go super expensive because kids generally tend to (1) wreck their first cars and (2) not know about maintenance and allow them to become run down.  Think of it as a “practice car”, one that you won’t mind if the engine blows up because she didn’t top off the oil or forgot to get it changed.  Buy a car that you won’t mind a little fender bender (and hope that’s all it is).

 

My two cents.

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Splurge and spoil her and get a Tesla. 

 

You can get a new Tesla for about 40k after incentives, which isn’t that much more expensive than a new ice car and you save on gas continuously. Also, in crash tests it performed the best out of any car and Teslas are less likely to get into crash’s, by an order of magnitudes.

 

I ordered my in May and my only regret is that I didn’t get one sooner. I’ve taken several 500 mile road trips since then and no issues with range.

 

 

Edited by CousinsCowgirl84

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Another vote for something like a Civic or a Corolla. A reliable car that won’t be a huge loss if it gets destroyed is your best option. 

 

my first car was a 99 Civic. I, of course, wrecked it. 

Edited by RansomthePasserby
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I’m sure there are some mechanics on the board that can weigh in on a 5 year old ______ and what comes in all the time! (Apparently most Nissan’s have some crappy transmission that always fails, but that’s just what I read.) 

 

But it seems like a Honda Fit/Civic/Accord or a Toyota Corolla, Camry are a great bet. You may be about to get one of those CPO off a lease that you know has been reasonably maintained and relatively low mileage.  That may be right at the top or a little over your budget but you won’t have to replace brake pads and tires and such right away. 

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I drove two Accords in my early twenties and loved them both dearly. They're very safe as well. My first got totaled because a stoned high school girl coming back from a party ran a stop sign and drove headlong into a major highway. I survived that horrific accident at 50+ MPH, thank God, and without any significant injuries. 

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My first car was a 1993 Audi (before they became a luxury brand) 100.  It was plenty nice for a kid but....I dunno, I think it had six cylinders and while it wasn't a sports car it handled well and was plenty powerful enough for me to do some really stupid ****.  Like 90 in a 35.  Or catching air off a hill.  

 

I don't have a kid, but if I did...I'd seriously consider getting them something plenty safe but also something not too powerful and something not cool that they'd be wanting to try stupid things in.  Cause they're probably going to want to do it anyway.  

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1 hour ago, Spaceman Spiff said:

 

I don't have a kid, but if I did...I'd seriously consider getting them something plenty safe but also something not too powerful and something not cool that they'd be wanting to try stupid things in.  Cause they're probably going to want to do it anyway.  

 

A Toyota Camry.  You’ve described a Toyota Camry.

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5 minutes ago, Springfield said:

 

A Toyota Camry.  You’ve described a Toyota Camry.

 

I'd get my kid a Camry but mod it with all this ridiculous body kit stuff to make it look like something out of Fast N Furious.  And then laugh my ass off while it takes them 7 seconds to go from zero to 60 after they pull out of the driveway  :rofl89:

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On 7/7/2019 at 12:29 AM, TryTheBeal! said:

I am a minority partner in a Mazda dealership and a 20+ year veteran in the biz.

All pictures of you that I have seen indicate that you are a white man. 

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2 hours ago, Elessar78 said:

All pictures of you that I have seen indicate that you are a white man. 

 

The whitest.  But I do know all the lyrics to the Nation of Millions LP by Public Enemy.

Edited by TryTheBeal!
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I would suggest you seriously consider an EV instead of internal combustion engine. EV's have MUCH less maintenance and the cost savings from gas for a teen driver is worth noting.  You can get pretty good deals now on 2016 & 2017 models that are coming off-lease.

 

By the time she's in the market for her own first independent purchase, it'll likely be an EV by then too. Might as well get a little ahead of the curve.

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Corolla or Civic is the best first car.  I just literally got rid of my 02 corolla my college car a few weeks ago!  

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My first car as a teenager was a 1994 Jeep Wrangler.  I ****ing loved that thing.  I got rid of it when I got my first adult job after undergrad.

 

My first car after I became a lawyer was a 1998 Jeep Wrangler, because I couldn't find a 1994 with less than 100,000 miles on it.  

 

My wife made me get rid of it when we had a kid, on the (somewhat reasonable) argument that I shouldn't put an infant in a vehicle without doors or a roof.  As soon as my kid is 6 (we already negotiated the age) I will be getting another Wrangler.  

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My first car was a Volvo 740 Turbo station wagon and I absolutely loved that car. Volvo’s are safe and pretty cheap, the older models are very easy to work on. 

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On 7/7/2019 at 11:59 AM, Spaceman Spiff said:

My first car was a 1993 Audi (before they became a luxury brand) 100.  It was plenty nice for a kid but....I dunno, I think it had six cylinders and while it wasn't a sports car it handled well and was plenty powerful enough for me to do some really stupid ****.  Like 90 in a 35.  Or catching air off a hill.  

 

I don't have a kid, but if I did...I'd seriously consider getting them something plenty safe but also something not too powerful and something not cool that they'd be wanting to try stupid things in.  Cause they're probably going to want to do it anyway.  

 

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1987-audi-4000-cs-quattro-2/

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On 7/7/2019 at 12:59 PM, Spaceman Spiff said:

I don't have a kid, but if I did...I'd seriously consider getting them something plenty safe but also something not too powerful and something not cool that they'd be wanting to try stupid things in.  Cause they're probably going to want to do it anyway.  

 

We used to tie a waterskiing tow rope to the roll bar of my Jeep when it snowed, and I would tow my buddies around our neighborhood on snowboards at like 40 mph.  If I did a turn just right, it would whip them into people's yards. :ols:

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I think what you are doing is great, and very similar to what my mom did for my 1st (actually 2nd) car.

 

My 1st car was a mix of 2 cars my big bro got from auction and built something that ran......until it didn't. He loved cars and me. 

 

My 1st non-Frankenstein car was a '99 Pontiac Sunfire. My mom was willing to put a little down and cover me on her insurance. So she knew what I could afford monthly payment wise at 16....$117.67 if I remember correctly. So she took her down payment and my monthly payments to determine budgets. She then found 3 cars that fit her standards, and I got to choose from there. 

 

Monthly payments and gas were 100% my responsibility. And the rule was, missed payment = lost car. And it was financed at a local credit union that I actually had to go into the bank to pay. But it taught me responsibility and started growing my credit (I was listed on the loan).

 

Don't give her the SUVs.....teens shouldn't be driving those things.

 

I say Corolla or Hyundai/kia certified used.

 

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On 7/7/2019 at 11:59 AM, Spaceman Spiff said:

 

 

I don't have a kid, but if I did...I'd seriously consider getting them something plenty safe but also something not too powerful and something not cool that they'd be wanting to try stupid things in.  Cause they're probably going to want to do it anyway.  

 

My first was a 68 RS Camaro with a a WOP shop modded engine. body,suspension and paint by yours truly and a custom interior w/highback leather seats......I will never forget my first.

 

REALLY stupid things happened quite often.  :ols:

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