Most teenagers look forward to the freedom that a driving license will give them. Its a real mark of maturity, and for a lot of teens it signifies a move into adulthood.
For parents though, it can present a dilemma. Do you let your newly qualified teen borrow your car, or should they have their own? And if they get their own, should you buy it for them or help them to buy it?
If as a family you have two cars anyway, letting your son or daughter borrow yours sometimes can be convenient for everyone. Some parents worry about their child damaging their car, but a solution to this is to make very clear that they will have to pay for any repairs caused by their driving. You could even put something in writing, like a contract or agreed code of conduct, so that they realise what a serious issue this is. You could add in rules stating that if they are caught speeding they wont be able to borrow the car again, for example.
If this is not practical for your family, or if for example your teenager has a job that they need to use the car for, then you should consider the possibility of them owning their own vehicle.
For most family budgets, there are two options available. The first is to encourage your son or daughter to save money and spend it on an old, cheap second hand car. The chances are youll need to contribute towards it too, but you can make this a birthday present or similar. It might not be the most glamorous vehicle but it will teach them a lot about responsibility and ownership. The act of saving up and then being able to buy something so big which will have such a big impact on their day to day life teaches a great lesson about effort and reward. If theyve put cash in themselves theyre also more likely to take good care of it and not risk damaging it.
The second option is to help them buy a used car on finance. At the age of around 17 or 18, it is unlikely theyll be able to get a car loan by themselves. It is possible in some circumstances, but theyd need an excellent credit rating and its rare that people of this age have done enough to build up such a good profile.
However it is possible for them to get a loan with you acting as a guarantor. This is beneficial for them because the loan will be in their name, but you will provide a guarantee to the lender that should they be unable to make payments, you will step in to help them. This means your teen will learn about the responsibility of managing loan repayments, and will be paying for the car themselves. It can also help them to build up a good credit profile for the future. The chances are as well that this option will allow them to buy a car in a better condition than if they were just paying cash. You can calculate your car finance repayments online to get an idea of what this will cost.
These two options will teach your child more than if you just buy them a car with no strings attached and no sense of it being earned.