Thinking About a Car as a Gift for Your Teen?

By Insurance.com Posted : 03/06/2007

If you’re perusing the Web for a gift for your high school grad, you’re sure to find a large number of practical, fun, and memory-inspiring gifts: computers, MP3 players, personalized pens, appliances for dorm life, watches, money for college, maybe even a trip to Europe. But an informal survey elicits a preponderance of but one gift: the keys to their very own car.

There are few things that symbolize freedom to a young person more than graduation and a car. No obligations, no teachers, no parents, just unscheduled time and the ability to go wherever, whenever. And the thought of buying a high school teen a car can be just as sobering.

Oil and reality check, please
Alas, reality will set in early enough. Getting a car brings with it its own set of travails — gas, insurance, maintenance, and possibly even a fender bender or two. Not to mention the cost of insurance. It is a scary point for many parents, the decision whether or not to equip the kids with their own wheels, and with good reason.

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Your teen might not have an established driving record, in which case you might want to think about waiting — young drivers, meaning those less than 21, have accident rates that are abysmal, especially males.

Being able to afford a car for your teen or new grad doesn’t necessarily mean you should feel obligated to buy them one. You might want to ask yourself the questions below before handing over the keys to their wildest dreams.

Questions to ask yourself before buying your child a car:

  • Does he really need a car?
  • Is she a responsible young adult?
  • Would it be better for your grad to earn the car rather than just having it?
  • Would a used car work just as well as a new one?
  • How necessary is it for her to have a car? Does she need it to get to high school, college or work?
  • Has he established a good driving record?
  • Who will be paying for car insurance, gasoline, and maintenance? Is it affordable?
  • Is your grad mature enough to draw lines with friends regarding drinking, drugs, overloading the car?
  • Does she respect curfews, callback times?
  • Are you comfortable with this decision?

A defining moment for parents
In the end, perhaps nothing will require a parent’s ability to judge their child’s maturity level more than buying him or her a car. Eventually, of course, your children will be driving around the world in a vehicle — regardless of who has purchased it. So what can you do? You’re best off to make sure that the transition is easy on them — and the rest of the world.

Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline.

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