Driver's Guide

How to Buy a Car as a Teenager

Howdy, Driver? Your plans to buy a car as a teenager is just challenging yourself towards a greater responsibility. Moreover, it is rare for teens to plan towards buying a car. Why? It is because adults always discourage such teens from planning to get a car.

how to buy a car as a teenager

Getting a driver’s license does not come easy. In the same dimension, it is a bit difficult to acquire a car as a teenager. Nevertheless, several teens worldwide buy and own a car, and you will soon become one of them.

Note that you do not require paid courses to understand the basics surround buying yourself a car. Meanwhile, I exposed the secret tips to outsmart a car salesman.

How to Buy a Car as a Teenager

In this section, I will drill you on the basics of getting yourself a car as a teenager.

Below are the tips to buy a car as a teenager:

  1. Set Your Budget

Can a teenager have a car in their name

A car costs a fortune, no doubt. The amount may discourage you from buying it as a teenager. As it stands, a new and cheap priced car can be anything between $13,000 and $15,000.

You may not be earning such an amount in a year but you can up your decrease expenses. Also, there are fairly used, but responsive cars you should opt for. First, determine what you can afford to dole out in a vehicle and you are good to go.

Your budget for a car should fall within a realistic range. You might want to consider working extra hours a week to meet up with a monthly target.

Lastly, give less regard to insignificant expenses such as clubbing, touring, and other irrelevant financial commitments.

Note: Do not make the mistake of allowing your desire for a car to overwhelm you.

  1. Take a Driving Course

How to save for a car as a teenager

If you do not already have an idea about a car as a teen, consider taking a driving course.  Some of the reputable platforms for a driving course you should consider are:

It is advisable to opt for the driving course that covers more of the driving principles in your jurisdiction.

  1. Arrange for Loan

Buying your first car: a guide for teens

It is a principle regarding how to buy a car as a teenager to pre-arrange for a loan. Before you go shopping for a car, you should arrange for a loan.

You do not want frustration or embarrassment while shopping for a car. Visit several car dealerships and financial institutions, compile their rates, and pick the most affordable option. Also, understand that the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) determines the interest rate you can get on a car loan.

Some lenders can offer loans with a 3% or less Annual Percentage Rate. However, this rate is accessible only by individuals with excellent credit histories. As a teenager or a young person, you may not have an excellent credit history, which means you have some shopping-around to complete.

  1. Car Lease is an Alternative

should I buy a car as a teenager

If you can’t afford the down payment for your dream car as a teenager, consider a car lease. A car lease is like renting an apartment, but the apartment does not belong to you. Here, you will be making a monthly payment for the car, but it does not mean you will acquire the car.

Leasing is often governed by conditions such as the miles the dealership expects that you don’t exceed. For example, if a 50,000-mile is included in the term, you can’t go past 50,000 miles. Otherwise, you have defaulted, and the dealership may sue you.

  1. Consider the Cost of Owning a Car

How teens can buy their own cars

Expenses will begin on the first day you buy a car. You have to title and properly register the car. The essential things you will spend on include gas, insurance coverage, and maintenance. Extra costs will arise from parking lots or traffic offenses that may result in vehicle impound. Though you can recover your car without insurance from impound, never break the road rules

A thumb rule concerning how to buy a car as a teenager is to be ready for the expenses.

  1. Outline Your Reasons for the Car

What is the best vehicle for a teenager

Would it not be best to use your parents’ or relatives’ car? How about public transportation or a less expensive bike? Would the benefits of buying the vehicle supersede the expenses? What you use the car for should afford the gas and maintenance of the car without asking parents or guardians for money.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Would you be driving the car to work, school, or for partying?
  • How about transporting passengers and luggage?
  • How often do you need the car?
  • What car would handle the task best?
  • Do you intend to explore the earning alternatives in your car?
  • Do your parents consent to the car?

Provide appropriate answers to the questions above and be sure they are positive answers before buying as a teenager.

  1. Should You Buy a New or Used Car?

how to buy a car as a teenager

Is a new or used car for teenagers the best option? It is sincerely a matter of choice and affordability. Used cars are less expensive and not all used cars arrive in poor conditions.

The vehicle you need might be too expensive, which means buying a used model saves you some cash, consider an affordable car.

To help you decide between a used and a new car, let’s highlight the significant differences.

What to Expect Between a Used and New Car

Pricing: Unlike a new car, a used car is less expensive. For example, a new VW Golf that will cost $16,540 can go for $8,600 for a used model. Even an older model of Passat would cost as low as $5,000.

Maintenance and Reliability: A new car arrives with a warranty. Also, you would not think of spending in the long run because everything is in place. A used car, on the other hand, may have been involved in a ghastly accident leading to unrepairable damages. Therefore, the cost of maintenance will become higher than in a new car.

Fuel Economy: Modern cars arrive with optimizations and features that improve fuel efficiency. A new car consumes less fuel since its components are fully functional. For a used car, such features depreciate, and the car will consume a bit more fuel.

Vehicle Identity: New cars are legit, whereas a used may have been involved in a theft. As you read on, you will find the section that highlights how not to buy a stolen car.

  1. Read Through the Financial Agreement

How to buy yourself a car as a teenager

Do not make the mistake of signing a financial agreement without proper knowledge of the terms. It is not advisable to ask the loan official or dealership to explain the terms of the agreement.

Instead, involve an adult with sound intellect to explain the TOC. Is it surprising that you should not inquire from the dealership or loan official?

Sincerely, these organizations have profits to secure and would be willing to profit through any dubious means possible.

  1. Test Driving

Can a 17 year old buy a car from a dealership

The final phase is to test drive the car. You would not want your hard-earned money to end up in the drain. So, request a test drive. It can take up to 3 hours and above, depending on the dealer’s timeline.

Note the following during the test drive:

  • Take a walk around the car and inspect the body and the undercarriage.
  • Check whether the VIN spots have been tampered with.
  • Check under the hood of the car.
  • Open and close all doors; pay attention to the responsiveness of the doors.
  • Get inside the car and assess your comfortability on each seat.
  • Fiddle with the gadgets that arrive with the car to see whether they are functional.
  • Start the car and listen carefully to the engine for cranky sound.
  • Check whether the brakes require little to no effort to respond.
  • Rev the car up to 40000rpm to find out whether the engine sounds coarse or good.
  • Speed between 20mph-100mph and pay attention to the car’s responsiveness. Also, listen up for noise, vibrations, etc.
  • Try using the gearbox and see whether the clutch is tight. Also, check whether the gearshifts are smooth or hard.
  • Get the car on a rough road and check how the suspensions respond.
  • Reverse the car, try to park, and see whether you get good rear visibility.

Security Consciousness

Once you acquire the car, do not depend on its security features. Buying yourself a vehicle as a teenager demands that you stay vigilant all the time. Always be watchful of your car and note the following:

  • Never leave valuable in the car.
  • Do not park in desolate areas.
  • Always remove the car keys from the car.
  • Be watchful of people hanging around your car. They could be attempting to copy out your VIN for VIN switching.

What to Look for Before Paying for a Used Car

As a teenager, you might feel buying a car is a big deal. Well, it is quite more straightforward than you think. Below are the primary things to consider before you pay for the car.

  • Request for Vehicle History Report
  • Examine and compare the Car Title
  • Compare the mileage report on the odometer and the title of the car.
  • Use the VIN to check whether the car has been recalled like some recalled Toyota
  • Inspect the interior and exterior.
  • Examine the undercarriage of the car.

The above are the essential things to check in a car as a teenager. Find the things you should check for detailed information. Moreover, you can ask a mechanic or an adult professional to help you examine the car.

How Not to Buy a Stolen Car as a Teenager

To avoid buying a stolen car, do the following:

  • Do not partake in cheap vehicle deals online.
  • Check up the used car dealer on Better Business Bureau (BBB) or any consumer protection agency in your jurisdiction.
  • Lookup vehicle VIN to ascertain the true vehicle identity.
  • Inspect the registration papers thoroughly.

Free Websites Teenagers Can Use for Car Research

While you are deciding on what car to buy, consider the websites below for detailed info regarding the vehicle you desire as a teenager.

Vehicle Consumer Reports and Reviews

Here, you will find consumer reports on the cars, and it will be useful for you as a teenager.

Edmunds Car: Search Edmunds for the car model you wish to buy. You will also find consumer reports as you scroll to the bottom of the page.

Consumer Reports: The Consumer Reports website is essential in terms of vehicle consumer reports. This website helps to access a series of reviews from users of the car. There is also a user rating menu that should help you determine whether the car you desire is worthy.

Kelley Blue Book (KBB): KBB is an excellent place for recommendations regarding the vehicle you want to buy.

Yahoo Autos: It is best to use Yahoo Autos if you want to buy a new but less expensive car. Yahoo Autos is most reputable for finding news regarding vehicles.

Car Searches

Search for some of the cars you would love to own as a teenager.

Cars: Cars offer you a wide range of options to search for the car you would prefer and see its specifications. There is also a vast recommendation that should suit your preference.

J.D. POWER: J.D. POWER helps discloses further information on the car you want to buy.

Maintenance Report

Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS): Use IIHS to know the performance of the car you desire during a crash test. If the crash test result is poor, do not buy it. Also, you will find out the car is illegal or legal in your jurisdiction.

Fuel Economy: The Fuel Economy website will help you determine the fuel efficiency rating of a car. You should opt for a car with good fuel efficiency so you will spend less on gas.

While reviewing the car on these sites, pay attention to reports on:

  • Reliability
  • Antilock braking system
  • Fuel economy
  • Safety features
  • The entire technology
  • Type of transmission

When you come across difficult terms, perform a simple internet search for explanations.

Road Problems: Expect to run into problems such as getting a parking ticket, having your vehicle towed, recovering the car from an Impound, etc.

READ: Fighting a tow and disputing a parking ticket!


When Should You Buy Your First Car?

There is no speculated time for buying your first car. However, once you reach the legal age of your jurisdiction, you are free to own a car. It could be at age 16, 17, or 18. In essence, it balls down to you, and when you choose to face the responsibility of owning a car.

Should I Buy a Car as a Teenager?

Yes, you should buy a car as a teenager so far you can afford it. Seek advice from parents, guardians, and responsible adults before buying your teenage self a car. Moreover, it exposes you early to what car management means, and you would have been more experienced with cars once you exit teenage.

How Can I Buy a Car If I’m 16?

You can buy a car if you are 16 by involving a responsible adult. Tell him/her why you need a car, and you will get recommendations for the car that suits you. Also, see this guide as guidance while buying your first car as a teen.

Can a 16 Year Old Buy a Car with Cash?

Yes, a 16-year-old can buy a car with cash. With all sincerity, it is not advisable to visit the dealership alone. Leave the responsibility of handling the money to an adult, so you do not fall victim to fraud.

Can a 17 Year Old Buy a Car from a Dealership?

Yes, a 17-year-old is old enough to buy a car from a dealership. Be sure that your jurisdiction recognizes 17 as a legal age. Otherwise, buy the car from a dealership through a responsible adult.

What’s the Best First Car for a Teenager?

Depending on what you can afford, the best first car for a teenager should be simple, less fuel consumption, low-speed, easy to maintain, and less expensive. A vintage car is not advisable for the first car a teenager should buy.

What is a Good Car for a Teenager?

A good car for a teenager is such a car that is less expensive to maintain. A used car is preferable because a new car might be too costly for you to purchase at the moment. An ideal car for a teenager should be low-speed, simple, fuel-efficient, and cost between $2,000 and $7,000 or £3,000 and £8,000.

Final Thought

Owning a car is fun and quite expensive at the same time.

I do not mind further advising you on the best steps to take. So, you are free to contact me.

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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