Getting Your Teen Ready For Their First Car

A teen driver sits nest to a crashed car with their head in their hands. Perhaps this is not a teen ready for their first car.

Is your teen ready for their first car? Perhaps they are about to take their license test? Or did they just pass their test and now you’re looking into getting their own very first car? Get them as prepared and confident as possible by following these tips before you shop.

Get Them On Your Insurance

It is illegal in all 50 United States, and all Canadian Territories or Provinces to drive without car insurance. As soon as your teenager has passed their test, you should have insurance set up for them before you even leave the test location parking lot. The insurance coverage may come in handy too since 16-year-olds have a higher crash rate than any other group of drivers due to their inexperience and everyday distractions. Adding a teenager onto your existing insurance probably won’t be cheap, but less so than buying them all-new insurance. Make sure any insurance credits or reductions they were promised due to Driver’s Ed or defensive driving classes are applied.

Make sure their eye exam is up to date.

Do you remember getting an eye exam at the DMV? A handful of states don’t require eye exams for renewing your license, so it’s easier to renew online. The majority of states need new drivers getting their license for the first time to pass a quick, informal eye exam.

If your teen wears glasses or contact lenses, the exam is conducted with them wearing their corrective lenses. If your teen needs a prescription update before the review, or even if they pass the exam fine but haven’t had a check-up with an optometrist in a while, make an appointment for them. Nearsightedness in children and teens can progress up until age 20, and having tip-top vision is an asset for safety and navigation when you’re driving.

Keep instilling a sense of how crucial it is to avoid distracted and intoxicated driving.

We’ve been tackling this issue in high schools as far back as the 80s. Back in 2005, 376 teens across America were killed in an alcohol-related crash on their prom night. The year 2005 may have been a while ago, but drunk driving among teenagers is still a huge issue today. On top of that, we have a problem that didn’t exist in 2005: driving distracted by our cell phones. You, your family, and other adults in your teen’s life have told them a million times how dangerous distracted and intoxicated driving can be. Tell them again, and offer support and ideas about how to keep themselves and their friends safe.

Have them learn basic car maintenance.

Basic maintenance knowledge is essential to get your teen ready for their first car. This doesn’t mean your teen needs to know the ins and outs of a car engine, but make sure they know how to handle common maintenance such as refilling wiper fluid and changing a tire. A 2017 AAA study found that a fifth of all Americans can’t change a tire. That same study found that to cut back on weight, 28% of new cars sold today don’t include a spare tire and changing kit so be sure that your teen’s car is equipped with a spare tire and tools, even if you need to buy them separately.

Is Your Teen Ready For Their First Car: Basic Safety

When your teen is driving on their own, they may find themselves in sketchy situations — and suddenly they’re the only adult around to handle it. Make sure your teen knows basic self-defense and safety for when they’re driving alone, at night, in bad weather, etc. Give them an awareness of small things like remembering where they parked in a parking garage, and walking there safely. Sure, in many areas it’s the law to have parking garage lighting on 24 hours a day, but not all. Have them learn their rights in police encounters or car accident situations. Empower your teen to know how to handle solo travel even in scary situations.

For more helpful information check out our post on Driver Safety Tips To Discuss With Your Teen

Let them participate in the car shopping experience.

When your teen is ready for their first car, don’t just buy a vehicle and surprise them with it — make your teen a part of the experience of buying their first car. First of all, they’ll have to do it themselves eventually. Second of all, it gives them a sense of pride and ownership of this significant step in their life. If this is just a short-distance starter car, don’t be afraid to get a sturdy, no-frills used motor. Almost 40 million used cars exchange hands every year, and chances are that your teen will need to know the ins and outs of buying used for their second car, too.

Driving is a huge step for you and your teen. You both may feel overwhelmed, but remember that it gets easier with education, time, and practice! Enjoy this next big leap in your child’s life.

Disclosure: I was paid to write and publish this article on Redheaded Patti. All opinions are my own, and the points of view in this post were not influenced in any way by the sponsor.