What Kind of Car Should We Buy for Our Teen?

Dear Mike:

My daughter will be getting her license soon and we’re getting ready to buy a car for her. Do you have any advice for us?

– Theresa S, Hazlet, NJ

Hi, Theresa!

The first thing I’d say is to make sure you’ve given her plenty of practice time with you in the passenger seat. That’s always the most important point I want to make, because it’s the only way your daughter is going to be ready to drive safely without you, no matter what car she’s driving.

As far as buying a car that’s especially good for a teenager, you need to think about safety before anything else. Do your homework; you can go to www.Crashtest.com to find out ratings for specific vehicles. Another good website is www.IIHS.org. That’s the site for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an organization supported by insurance companies, that does research and crash tests above and beyond what the government requires.

Your daughter probably wants you to make a decision based on looks or features like a sun-roof, but you really need to look at the impact studies for head-on collisions, t-bones AND rollovers.

Know the details, not just the overall safety rating. Whatever you do, don’t buy a junker just because it’s cheap; there are some cars that are still on the road that I tell my students I’ll personally pay to have towed to the salvage yard, because I consider them so unsafe in a collision. Saving a few dollars isn’t nearly as important as protecting your son or daughter’s life.

Mike Pehl
‘Helping Parents Create Safer Roads, One Teen at a Time””
Smarter Drivers, Safer Roads
That’s our goal.


  • Carmen Baguio February 15, 2017

    As a parent of several teens, I couldn’t agree with your tips more! They are unexperienced drivers and will make mistakes. Dependable and “wreck” proof are really important.

    • Jayne Ubl February 15, 2017

      Thanks for your comment Carmen and for supporting smarter drivers,safer roads!

  • Carly Delski February 15, 2017

    This is such great advice! Even as an adult -safety was the first thing I looked at! I just bought my Mazda 3 a month ago and while I love the car I also know I’d walk away okay if anything were to ever happen!!

    xx Carly | http://www.thecarlycollective.com

    • Jayne Ubl February 15, 2017

      Carly, thanks for the comment and glad you are aware of the importance of driver safety both as a driver and in the car you drive!

  • justine February 15, 2017

    Excellent advice! Most parents just buy a “junky car” for their teens first car, but sometimes junky cars aren’t the safest. Sometimes as parents, we need to splurge a little on a new used car to ensure safety.

    • Jayne Ubl February 15, 2017

      Justin, Thanks for your comment and for supporting smarter drivers, safer roads.!

  • Kari February 15, 2017

    My parents bought an extra car when I was 14 knowing this was going to be my car. They wanted me to use the same car I practiced in. They also wanted to know that the car was going to be safe but they still wanted the car to be ‘used’ because the insurance wouldn’t bee so high. So, they let me drive that car until I switched cars years later.

    • Jayne Ubl February 16, 2017

      Kari, Congratulations to you and your parents for such a smart idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • Maya February 27, 2017

    I didn’t get my first car till college, so I’m not one to talk lol that’s such a cool website the help us out along the way!

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.