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Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

Old 06-07-19, 05:34 PM
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Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

Based on the age of most everyone here, this is an experience many of you have gone through already.

My wife and I are looking for a vehicle for our teenager driver. We've differed a bit on who should pay for it based on our own upbringing. I saved up my own money and paid for my first vehicle entirely on my own. Her parents bought her a used car when she was old enough to drive. And we haven't even gotten to the point of talking about who is going to pay for gas/insurance and the occasional repairs.

So I'm curious--how was this handled when you grew up? And if you have kids old enough to drive, what arrangements did you make for your teen's first set of wheels.
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Old 06-07-19, 05:57 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

I bought my son his first car. When I was married my wife and I helped buy her daughter's first car. I worked a great job in High School, my son grew up in a very small town with virtually no job options unless you had a car to travel to a bigger town. So that limited him and my wife's daughter and my former step-daughter.

I was given my first car so I can't whine. I saved and bought my second car a 1978 Camaro, that was later wrecked by a drunk driver. With that insurance money I bought a 1972 Camaro which in turn almost killed me when the rear wheel came off going down the highway.
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Old 06-07-19, 06:07 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

I think there are too many factors and variables involved for there to be a clear cut answer. It depends on the specific circumstances.

Does the teen need the car for work/school, or are they planning to just use the car for fun?

How responsible or irresponsible has the teen been in other areas of life?

Does the teen abuse drugs or alcohol?

Does the teen text while walking across the street?

I'd suggest looking at these issues, and other issues that are related to responsibility, before deciding whether or not parents should buy their teen a car.
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Old 06-07-19, 06:28 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

I think it all depends on the financial situation of the family. My parents bought me and my siblings a car and we all had them well beyond college. They paid for everything. But, quite a bit of the fact I got one when I was sixteen was that I had two younger siblings so I was expected to help shuttle them around. I was expected to keep my grades up to keep the car.

My oldest is not even 10 yet, but I'm pretty sure we'll be paying for the car/insurance/gas on the condition that he keeps his grades up and takes care of the car.

I figured having reliable transportation is one less thing to have to worry about going into the job market for a kid.
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Old 06-07-19, 06:29 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

Kids are lucky these days

A 2000 Honda Accord would be considered a jalopy and you are not driving a car from the 70's or early 80's with no AC.
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Old 06-07-19, 06:34 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

Kids (teenagers) don't have access to jobs as easy nowadays.

Just buy the poor kid a car.
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Old 06-07-19, 07:58 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

When I was a teen a lot of it was based on the sex of the kid. As a boy, I was expected to pay (the majority, my parents helped a little) for my first car. It was an Ď83 POS. Most guys I grew up with had the same thing. Junkers that were barely able to get from point A to point B.

Most girls I went to school with had their parents buy them a car and they were usually a lot nicer/newer than the ones the boys were driving.

I think a lot of it had to do with parents wanting to make sure their girls were in safer vehicles that didnít need very many repairs. Guys on the other hand were given whatever they could get their hands on and then expected to keep it running by fixing it themselves.

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Old 06-07-19, 08:18 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ View Post

Most girls I went to school with had their parents buy them a car and they were usually a lot nicer/newer than the ones the boys were driving.

I think a lot of it had to do with parents wanting to make sure their girls were in safer vehicles that didn’t need very many repairs. Guys on the other hand were given whatever they could get their hands on and then expected to keep it running by fixing it themselves.

That's completely true, one area where the girls had it a lot better than us guys, who were 'expected' to be able to fix / repair our own POS cars in high school. That 2000 Accord jalopy would have been a dream car for most of the guys. We were stuck with late '60s - early '70s clunkers which barely functioned... but the experience was priceless in that we sure learned about mechanics and cars, even if we didn't want to... And yes, it actually was an education in common sense and constructive thinking.

If you just give your teen a car, that real-life experience is lost on the kid. But, paradoxically, nowadays, that might be the best -- or at least a better option. It's apples and oranges compared to how it was for parents "back in the day."

That cheap 2000 jalopy will only set you back a couple thousaynd bucks and will be infinitely more reliable that the old '70s cars we carroused in around as kids. It was, in the most literal sense, a totally different world then. Now, buying a NEW car for your kid... I dunno, that's getting pretty fancy, and just gives him the idea that money grows on trees and he'll have no sense of financial management... In other words, you'll be enabling him, and setting a bad example thereby creating a spoiled and entitled brat in the worst case.
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Old 06-07-19, 08:30 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
Now, buying a NEW car for your kid... I dunno, that's getting pretty fancy, and just gives him the idea that money grows on trees and he'll have no sense of financial management... In other words, you'll be enabling him, and setting a bad example thereby creating a spoiled and entitled brat in the worst case.
I disagree. At this point in life, if the kid isn't already a spoiled brat, buying a new car won't create one.

My family was middle class. My dad was a hard-working blue collar. He had a local car dealer come out to our house and I got to pick out what options I wanted on a new car. It was delivered in a couple weeks.
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Old 06-07-19, 09:00 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

I got my first car after I left home and got a job.
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Old 06-07-19, 09:09 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

When my brother and I were kids, we had to buy our own cars. That meant he bought a car, and I didn't (couldn't have cared less about having a car). My dad bought me a car in my early 30's after my divorce and it about made me cry, because I needed one so bad then and I had no money. I've bought cars for 2 out of 3 of my young adult kids. My youngest wants to get a car this summer, and we are going to give him some money for it, plus let him live at home so he can build a little nest egg. He's been in a dorm this past year, but it turned out he sucked at college.
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Old 06-07-19, 09:18 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

My dad bought each of us one bicycle. After that, we were expected to buy our own vehicles. Since I was the oldest, I got the bicycle that was sized for first graders. When I was nine, he did give me his hand-me-down bicycle. It was hard for me to ride because I was a kid and he was 6'4". And of course it was broken.

When I was a teenager, he made it clear that when I got a driver's license, I would be responsible for the insurance on his car. I did the rational thing: I bought a twelve-speed bicycle and a non-driver's ID. When I was eighteen, he softened a bit and said that I wouldn't have to pay the insurance if I got a license, so I got one.

After I moved out, I hitchhiked to work until I could afford a car. That was in the early 1980s. People can't do that today. Drivers don't pick up hitchhikers anymore. I had a good mechanical mind, and I had friends with tools and know-how, so I was able to keep that first car going.

My parents weren't poor. They believed in thrift. They raised neurotically thrifty adults. If I had children, I wouldn't put them through all that in the name of building character.
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Old 06-07-19, 10:23 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

That's a tough call. If you tell the kid to save their money and they only have a hundred bucks and they're 16, that's pretty cruel. I'd say be realistic. What's the car for? Can they just drive yours? Is there need for a third car that's yours and they get to use it more?

That's how we went. We had the family van plus a little Dodge Omni plus dad just drove his work pickup everywhere. He never left town unless we all went together so the Omni became the third car I get to use. Sure, I out speaker boxes in it and Pink Floyd stickers on it, but it was still my parents' car. They paid, their rules. When I was grounded from the car, that was it.

Later when i was in my early 20s i was flat broke and they bought me a car after the car I bought died. It was very nice of them and I couldn't have been more grateful, except it seemed like I should have. They kept bringing it up for years every time I saw them. Like, in a "You should be more grateful" way. I asked my dad how much he paid for that 1995 Pontiac Bonneville (which ended up lasting not quite 2 years) and it was $2000 or so. I saved up to finally get a decent car and took the "be grateful" crap until I had the money to pay him back. I wrote him a check and said I appreciate the car but I'm done hearing about it. This car is about to die and I can pay you back so you can stop bringing up how you helped me with a gift when I had nothing or I can put this toward a new car and you can drop it. Either way, I'm done being beholden to you about this car.

I think he realized how much the "be grateful" routine had worn out its welcome because he said put the money toward a new car and never brought it up again. Unfortunately, this is how it was growing up so I really try to not ask my parents for anything because maybe I won't "be grateful" enough.
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Old 06-07-19, 11:16 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

I don't have kids, but my parents made my sister and I pay for half of our first cars. We both got local minimum wage jobs that were close enough to ride our bicycles to in order to save up for the cars. They paid for the insurance and we paid for gas. Needless to say, both of our cars ended up being pieces of shit that constantly needed repairs, which, depending on the repair and cost, my parents would help out with.
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Old 06-08-19, 04:18 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

I had to drive a Plymouth Duster for 6 years until I got a new 1998 Honda Accord
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Old 06-08-19, 05:47 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

I don't have children, but my first car was a hand-me-down from one of my older brothers. I graduated from high school in 1983 and didn't get my license till the following fall when I started college. That summer I worked full time and rode a bike back and forth. I got the car when I got the license. It was a '76 Vega. I didn't have to pay anything for it, and my parents added me to their car insurance so I don't remember having to pay for that until I moved out on my own a year or two later. I did have to pay for the fuel and repairs, but I'm pretty sure if it had needed anything expensive I charmed my dad into it, I just can't recall anymore.
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Old 06-08-19, 06:03 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

At age 15 my dad gave me his old car when he bought a new one. He kept it in his name and on his insurance. It didn't have much trade in value so he just gave it to me.
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Old 06-08-19, 09:42 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

We took it as an opportunity to get a new car since we had an older CR-V - we gave that one to our son but told him he was responsible for maintenance/repairs. We agreed to pay insurance as long as he kept his record clean. That worked well for us.
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Old 06-08-19, 11:22 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

Parents but they get a piece of crap. It will be in an accident of some sort, don't get them a new car until after high school.
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Old 06-09-19, 02:38 PM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

I bought my first car with my money in the late 60s. $50 for a 1954 Chevy from a friend of my Dads.

My Son didn't get a drivers license until he was 27. In high school his Mom and I drove him where he wanted to go. In college he walked everywhere. His girlfriend was at JMU so he moved there where they have terrific public transportation. He finally got a license to help out driving his wife's car.
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Old 06-10-19, 05:19 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

It was the mid 1980's when I was old enough to drive. My parents let me know right quick if I wanted a car, I would have to go to work and pay for it myself. I didn't like it at the time, but boy, i'm sure glad they did. It taught me that nothing in life would be handed to me, and if I wanted something, I would have to work and save my money until I was able to buy it myself.
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Old 06-10-19, 06:24 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

My son saved his money and bought his own
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Old 06-10-19, 06:36 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

It depends. But I would consider a new car. New cars, even inexpensive one have amazing safety features.
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Old 06-10-19, 06:57 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

It depends
I utilized the family car, then inherited my grandmother's car, then a handmedown pickup truck when my dad got a new truck. I did buy (lease) my own car in college.
My son just got his license and I've been holding my old car for a while in reserve for him, so he's using it.
It's not unreasonable to expect the teen to contribute within his/her ability - I had to pay for most of my insurance and obviously my running costs, and I'm expecting the same from my son.
Although I have definitely heard that too - that a newer, used card is better due to the improved safety features.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:14 AM
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Re: Who Pays for a Teenager's First Car?

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
It depends. But I would consider a new car. New cars, even inexpensive one have amazing safety features.
Agreed. If it's in the budget, get her a newer car that has top notch safety features.

As far the original question, this depends on your daughter. Is there college ambition there? Does her basic plan involve her having an actual career? If yes, buy her the car. It will last her through college and into the early part of her post college life. Money isn't easy to come by in your early 20's so alleviate some of that burden for her so that she can more easily afford rent. If she's not working toward anything after high school then sure, now may be the time to teach her the lesson of earning.
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