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Teens - Buying Your First Car

Updated on September 10, 2014

So, You Want A Car?

At some point, every teen dreams of becoming a vehicle owner. The argument is usually that “everybody else has one”, or maybe they don’t, but it’s hard to figure out why mom and dad won’t ante up and help with your heart’s desire. It seems they might at least agree to it if you get a job to pay for it yourself. After all, it would help the family if you were able to run errands and drive yourself to school. Read on to see the whys and wherefores of car ownership and considerations from a parent’s viewpoint.

Costs of Car Ownership

Initial out of pocket expense does not stop with the purchase price of a vehicle. Consider this:

  • In the event you borrow money for the vehicle, a down payment may be required.
  • Whether new or used, a vehicle sale will necessitate the purchase of insurance.
  • Excise tax must be paid within a 30 day period following the actual purchase. Tags will also have to be purchased for a new vehicle. Sometimes a used vehicle will have some time left on the tag. These costs can be quite steep when buying a brand new vehicle and will be a lesser amount for an older one.
  • When purchasing an older vehicle, it may need new tires.

States will vary on some of the requirements on vehicle purchases. Tags are much more expensive in some states than others. Other requirements, such as inspection stickers, will vary from state to state. First time buyers would be advised to research all these things before making their purchase, especially if you are purchasing on your own, without parental financial help.

Saving Money

  • Insurance

a. Check into having a teen’s vehicle on their parent’s insurance policy.

b. Good grades in school may garner a discount.

c. Insurance will be higher on a “sports” car. Consider a 4 door instead of a 2 door vehicle.

d. Distance you drive the vehicle daily may cut costs with some insurance companies.

e. When buying insurance for young people, the cost will be higher for a male than for a female.

f. It pays to check insurance prices with your insurance company before making a purchase.

  • Tags and Excise Tax

a. For new vehicles, tags and excise tax must be paid, usually within 30 days of purchase.

b. When purchasing a used vehicle, the tags may still be good and only excise tax would be due.

c. It pays to check tag prices with your insurance company before making an actual purchase.

  • Tires

Some teens want trucks with lift kits and big tires. That necessitates new wheels. Those tires and wheels are quite expensive and even when a vehicle has good tires on it when you purchase, sooner or later tires will need replacing. If big tires are a must on your list, then it is highly suggested that you begin putting money back right away for when you have to buy new tires. Save money by using a regular tire, with no lift kit.

Lifted Truck



Once you’ve gotten that vehicle, your Christmas Wish List will suddenly contain such items as the ones listed below. These are all unnecessary to the operation of the vehicle, but if you have your heart set on them, research the expense and plan ahead.

  • Lift kit
  • Big tires
  • Rims
  • Sound system
  • Designer floor mats
  • Steering wheel cover
  • Blue/purple etc. lighting
  • Window tint

A Parent's Standpoint On Teen Car Ownership

No parent wants to lose a child, regardless of age. Their first thought will be about safety issues. Following is a list of concerns a parent may have in connection with their teen getting a vehicle.

  • He/she (the teen) doesn’t realize how much it costs to keep a vehicle up.
  • Texting and driving is such a problem with all drivers, but especially teens.
  • Girls , putting on makeup while they drive, have caused many wrecks.
  • Insurance is so expensive for young drivers.
  • It provides too much freedom and I won’t be able to keep close tabs on my teen.

Possible rules a parent may insist on in the event they do agree to a vehicle for their teen:

  • The vehicle will be used as leverage in the event grades are not up to snuff or other issues that may come up.
  • No one and that means No One else (other than parents) is allowed to drive the vehicle.
  • Teens may not drive with any other teens in their vehicle – some parents don’t allow their teens to even ride with other teens when their own teenager doesn’t have a car.
  • If a teen gets a ticket or is caught driving too fast or recklessly, parents make the vehicle off limits.

Teen/Parent : Who Buys First Car

Is There A Teen Owned Vehicle In Your Family & Who Pays For It?

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    • Karen Ray profile image

      Karen Ray 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for reading & for your comment. Sounds like sister made out like a bandit, lol.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Great hub! When I was a teen, my parents promised that they would match the money I came up with. Little did they know I would work like crazy to come up with much more money than they imagined, while also keeping my grades up. It was encouragement to work hard for something I really wanted. Then I went to college out of state and they kept my car for my younger sister. Hmmmm. Someone got the raw end of that deal.