Teenagers and Car Ownership
Teaching your teenager the costs of car ownership and driving.
Learning how to drive a car is a big milestone in a teenager’s life. Learning how to pay for its upkeep isn’t as exciting, but just as necessary. Here are a few simple tricks to help them keep their wallet happy.
New or used?
Buying used is usually a no-brainer for most teenagers. Talk to family and friends to see if they are willing to sell their cars at a discount.
First insurance premium
Most teenagers stay on their parents' insurance plan, but it may be cheaper to get insured elsewhere. Help them shop around and look for the discounts most companies offer.
Most insurance companies offer discounts if they:
- Take driver’s ed classes.
- Keep up with their schoolwork. Good grades = good discounts.
- Drive safely and keep their driving record clean.
Save on gas
When going to fill up, they should shop around and to make sure they're getting the lowest price. Using an app like GasBuddy can help find the cheapest gas in the area. At the pump, make sure to use the lowest grade recommended for the car—usually 87-octane. Fill up when during cooler weather, such as in the early morning or at night. Gasoline is measured and sold by volume. When it’s cold out, the gas is denser, and you can get slightly more for your money.
Good habits make a car more efficient
Practicing these habits can help save money on operating a car:
- Make sure the gas cap is on tight so no fumes can escape from the tank.
- Change the air filter frequently to keep the engine from working harder than it must.
- Keep the proper air pressure in the tires for cost-effective performance.
- Lighten the load carried in the car. The heavier the car, the less fuel efficient it is.
- Drive the speed limit—it’s better for the gas mileage, helps in avoiding costly speeding tickets, and is safer.
- Don’t rapidly speed up or slow down. Gradually getting up to speed saves gas.
- Minimize time spent idling. For example, turn the car off while waiting for friends.
From tune-ups to major repairs
Labor is usually the biggest cost of car repairs in the shop, particularly for simple fixes and routine maintenance. Learn how to do the simple tasks for maintaining the car, like changing blubs. Regularly checking on the car systems and fluids will save money. If a professional is needed to work on the car, shop around for the best deal.