When Your Teen Wants a Car

Your 16-year-old son catches you off guard during dinner: "Dad, I want my own car." You know it’s inevitable, that sooner or later, your son will want to drive his own car. But still, what your teenager just said makes you choke. Will you let him have one? You know that a lot of teenagers own cars, but what good will it do yo your son? When thinking about whether or not your teen should own a car, consider the following points:

What is your child’s motivation?

The first consideration is to know whether your teen needs or wants a car. Does he really need it, or just want one since all his friends have cars? If he goes from school right on to his part-time job, and straight to his soccer practice after work on a daily basis, then giving him a car makes good sense. However, if his primary motivation is to cruise around with friends on Saturday nights, then he doesn’t need a car.

Is he ready?

If you think that your teen is well prepared and responsible enough to drive his own car, then it is OK to buy him one. Create a driving contract between you and your teen. For example, if he violates a traffic rule and gets a ticket, he must agree to pay the cost of the traffic ticket. Your teen should not drink and drive, or even carry alcohol in his car.

Also, your teen must pay for damages he causes to his car not covered by insurance. It must also be his responsibility to keep his car clean all the time, check the oil, refill the gas tank, and so forth. He must also agree that he will always buckle up and never load up more passengers in his car than there are seat belts.

Is it practical for you and your child?

As mentioned, having a car will be very practical for your teen if he is busy with school, work, and extracurricular activities. But, how about you? Will letting him get a car makes your life bliss? You are spending significant amount of time if your teenager’s school is about 30 minutes from home and you have to make two round trips daily. This, of course, does not include the travel time from school to his work and to his soccer practice. Letting him drive could take tons of pressure off your shoulder.

Do you have the money?

If you think buying a car for your teenager will strain your finances and if your child does not have the means to pay for the maintenance of the car, it is best to postpone the purchase. That is, until your financial status improves or until your teenager can buy it himself.