Should Your Teen’s First Car be New or Used?

Should Your Teen's First Car be New or Used?

One of the biggest moments in your teen’s life is the day they pass their license test and can drive off into the sunset. Obtaining a driver’s license is a rite of passage for any teenager, as they can be more independent and no longer have to rely on their parents’ taxi service to get around.

It’ll most likely be difficult to watch your child grow up and no longer need you every waking moment. But, while your teen is off driving, you’ll be able to dedicate more time to yourself, your spouse, your friends, and your interests. As your child is on the road and out of arms reach, your biggest concern is going to be their safety. This is why many parents wonder whether their teen’s first car should be new or used.

To help you narrow down your decision, we outlined the pros and cons of buying a new or used car for your teen driver below.

Pros and Cons of Buying a New Car

Buying a new car for the new driver in the family just seems right for some parents. While the cost upfront is higher, a new car will come with better safety features, comfort, and style. If you can afford to purchase a new car, doing so will give you peace of mind knowing your precious child is safely equipped with modern technology and amenities.

Whether you plan to shop from new Volkswagen inventory in Georgia or from new Honda inventory in Connecticut, here’s what you should know before buying a new car for your teen.


Safety: Above all else, new cars are the safest option when buying a car. New cars are equipped with more airbags, rear-view cameras, tire pressure indicators, blind spot detectors, electronic stability control, and so much more. Features like these may not be standard in older cars, which can be the difference between life and death in the case of a serious accident.

Reliability: Newer cars are also more reliable. They are more fuel efficient, saving on gas expenses, and have more advanced engines, parts, and software to ensure the car runs smoothly.

Technology: Safety technology, performance technology, and entertainment technology. New cars have it all, making driving more fun and relaxing. A new car will allow your teen to navigate the streets safely with features such as head-up displays, voice control navigation, and mirror indicators. Additionally, entertainment features such as Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and comfort settings like heated and ventilated seats will make endless memories for your child.

Lifespan: Purchasing a new car will last longer compared to a used car. With fewer miles compared to their counterpart, new cars will be able to go the distance and last your child well throughout high school, college, and beyond.

Happiness: If you really want to show your teen how proud you are of their accomplishments and growth, a new car will do just the trick. Perfect as a birthday gift, a new car will be an unforgettable present that they’d appreciate for life.


Cost: The biggest con of buying a new car is the cost. In 2019, the average cost for a new car is around $37,500. That’s enough money to fund one or two years of college education if your child goes to a private school. Because this is a big expense, and teen drivers are at the highest risk of getting into an accident, buying a new car fresh off the factory line may seem like a risky investment.

Insurance: The upfront cost isn’t the only major expense that comes with a new car. Insurance on your teen’s new car will be costlier than that of a used car. Repairs, liability, and the fact that a teenager is behind the wheel are all reasons your insurance bill will be much higher.

Depreciation: As you may know, car depreciation is a real thing. After one month of driving, your teen’s new car will lose around 10 percent of its value, and 20 percent after a full year. So, if you pay $37,500 for a new car, expect it to be worth $33,750 after the first month. That’s enough money to pay for your child’s college meal plan and a few courses during their first year of college.

Should Your Teen's First Car be New or Used?

Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Car

Unlike new cars, used cars come at a significantly lower price, allowing you to save money while still giving your teen the freedom they crave. And if you want to teach your child to be responsible, you can always have them pay for a portion of the car if they have a part-time job. Driving can be dangerous if not taken seriously, so having your child take partial ownership will encourage them to drive safer and smarter.


Cheaper: Used cars are much cheaper than a new car, and you can sometimes find a reliable one for a few thousand dollars if you do your research. This allows families to save money while allowing the teen to gain driving experience while not fearing of getting a scratch or two.

Certified Pre-Owned: If you’re nervous about outdated safety features, a certified pre-owned vehicle is a viable alternative. CPO cars are inspected by factory trained professionals and make a used car become “just like new.”

Insurance: Because used cars are cheaper, insurance premiums will be lower as well, saving you more money per month on your auto insurance bill.


Outdated Safety Features: Technology is rapidly changing how we drive, making cars safer than ever. Because of this, many older models aren’t up to date with current federal laws. A 5-star safety rating a few years ago is much different than a 5-star safety rating today.

Potential Unreliability: A used car may look great on the outside, but sometimes you can end up with a lemon that is plagued with hidden mechanical issues. Because of this, your child could end up on the side of a highway or stuck in the school parking lot.

Maintenance: If you do end up buying a lemon, that means you’ll take plenty of trips to a service center. If this is the case, you could end up paying thousands of dollars on repairs throughout the years that can add up to the price of a new car. Make sure to shop smart, test drive, and do your research.

The Bottom Line

Buying a car, new or used, is a big investment, especially when it’s for your new teen driver. As with all major purchases, plan carefully, budget, and research so you can ensure your child is safe every mile they drive.

Should Your Teen's First Car be New or Used?

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Jess Benoit

Jess is a homeschooling mama of 3, wife, gamer, Whovian, Nerd

14 thoughts on “Should Your Teen’s First Car be New or Used?

  • Interesting insights, Jess! When I was a teenager, my mom didn’t buy me a brand new car. She thought it would be better if I own a used car. My mom and dad brought me along when we bought it and they explained why I don’t need a brand new car. They were right, though. As a mom, I know that you know what’s best for your kids as my mom did. Thanks for sharing this post!

  • the depreciation is one of the biggest concern for new cars and also that the new cars needs to be driven with extra care so that it may not get a dent or scratch

  • After reading the pros and cons of a used and new car from my point of view a new car is a good idea because at this age they will be more excited about their first car so it has more chances of getting more car repair expenses. Thanks for the great article!

  • Today, smaller engines dominate cars, but they also have more horsepower than just a few years ago. For instance, I reviewed a 4-cylinder Subaru recently that was a rocket with almost 300-horses. It is very common for 6-cylinder engines to top 325-horses. Do not tempt your kid to drive fast, as we know, speed kills.

  • Thanks for your comparison between old and new cars, I would keep in mind while buying my next fleet.

  • If someone truly can’t choose, I would recommend you go the kind of new route and purchase a certified pre-owned car that’s a few years old. This rapidly growing selection of vehicles typically includes leased cars in varying states of use. The vehicles have been returned to the manufacturer and certified to be just like new. Cheers!

  • This is truly helpful. I remembered my dad bought my brother his first car. He decided to buy the used one. Believe me, I am using still using it now. My dad is very particular about the engines. He is very meticulous about it. Brand new cars are also great. It depends on how you take care of it.

  • For the maintenance, shop smart, test drive, and do your research are the best advice when it comes to buying a used car. The advantage is that you can save more, and it’s great if you know someone who can maintain the system regularly. Great advice, Jess.

  • Modern life is more distracting than ever before, so we need to teach our kids basic driving safety and how to practice it constantly. Amazing post!

  • I totally agree that buying a new car for teenagers who aren’t skilled drivers is a risky investment. My brother had asked my parents to buy him a new model but I think it wouldn’t be a good decision. Maybe I should suggest that they buy a secondhand car and just have it repaired at a nearby auto body shop.


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