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First Car Decisions for Parents of Teens - Help!

I am suddenly very very unpopular in my house because I put the brakes on my twenty year old inexperienced driver daughter purchasing a small SUV for a first car. My daughter is a very new driver, as she very recently obtained her license. I did some research and learned that SUVs require a driver experienced with quick maneuvering situations to avoid a roll-over accident. I want her to get a more stable sedan. My husband rolls his eyes at me and now the whole household thinks of me as over-protective and ridiculous. My daughter feels I have killed her dream for a Chevy Tracker with 60,000 plus miles on it. I need some other parent support - or am I really unreasonably over-protective and off-base here after all? And one more thing, which is probably a topic all to itself, my daughter and her brother, who has yet to get his license, plan to pool their money and "share" the car, taking turns when appropriate. (one is in college and one headed to college) We don't have the funds to put the money down, so they wanted the car so much that they came to this agreement to use their combined savings. Maybe this is a big mistake.


  • edited April 2009
    If they can pay for it, let them get what they agree one. If you're not a financial partner in this, and your daughter is 20, and legally an adult, there's little you can do to stop her.

    The Tracker is pretty sure footed for an SUV, it's pretty underpowered too, so it's not like your kids are going to be drag racing it. It's also reliable, and since it was sold all over the world, servicing and repairing it should be inexpensive. The bad news is that the Tracker does not hold up well in crashes at all. It's pretty small and lightly built, it's not safest car around.

    As for sharing a car, I've never seen it work well between siblings of the opposite sex. There will be plenty of conflict about who gets the car on saturday night.
  • edited April 2009
    Your daughter is over 18. She can buy whatever she likes, assuming she's spending her own money. I think you're being a little bit too over-protective. I, too think a small sedan is a much better idea, but, as I said, she's old enough to make her own decision (and live with the consequences).

    If she's on her way to college she'll need the money for tuition, books, etc, much more than she'll need a car, especially a Tracker. How's she (or how are they) going to maintain a vehicle, and pay for insurance and fuel, while she's (they're) in school?

    Sharing a car usually works much better in theory than it does in practice, but again, this will be a learning experience for both of them.

    It's time to let the little birds fly.
  • edited April 2009
    Possibly the two are going to the same college. If that is the case than one car between them should be no problem at all.

  • edited April 2009
    It is time to let the little birds fly, but the one little bird just started driving and the other doesn't have his license or permit yet. So, while they are adults according to numbers, they are still basically sixteen year old drivers according to experience. That's where my concerns lie. I just want them to have the best odds when the accident may happen.
  • edited April 2009
    My reservations about the Tracker is if it would encourage off-road driving. Is this the case? Raising two children that as adults can sucessfully share a car does speak well in regards to your judgement as a parent.
  • edited April 2009
    The concept is that one will buy out the other's part of the car once they want to separate. The payments are low. This was not my crazy idea, just for the record. Thanks for your thoughts.
  • edited April 2009
    Who is going to pay for the insurance on the car? If it is your daughter, that is one thing. However, if you are going to pay for the insurance, you might want to check with the insurance company to see how the rate for the Tracker compares with what you consider a more stable sedan.

    I had the opposite problem with my son. We had a 15 year old car that I allowed him to take to college that was 50 miles away from home. His second year, he went on an Appalacian studies program. This location was 400 miles away and involved quite a bit of interstate driving. I said that we needed a better car for the trip. His reaction was that the old car would be fine. I sent him in a newer car that we had and I drove the old car. The day after he left, I was driving the old car and the ignition lock jammed and I couldn't even turn the wheel. If this had happened to my son, he would probably still be sitting at a rest stop 15 years later--his mechanical knowledge isn't very great. He has never cared about owning a "cool" car--all he cares about is getting from one place to another.

    We are parents and we always worry about our children. Even though my son has a spotless driving record, I think he is too young to have a license. He is only 35.
  • edited April 2009
    Yes, that's what we all want. I went through this with two kids, a son and a daughter. They both survived, and the odds are you kids will, too.

    You can't guarantee their safety, no matter what you do.

    Just out of curiosity, what vehicle do you propose they buy instead of a Tracker.
  • edited April 2009
    I agree with the insurance angle. Has your daughter investigated the cost of insurance for a Tracker? Perhaps if she compared insurance costs on different vehicle types it may help steer her in a different direction. Insurance costs a lot when the vehicle is owned by a young person. She needs to know this.

    She should also tell the insurance agent about her plan to share the vehicle with her brother. They're really going to love that one!
  • edited April 2009
    On parent support for the small sedan. You didn't mention what amount of money the parents were contributing to the daughter's car purchase, 0%, 50%; 75%? If the kids pooling their money means that parent funds for the project are 0% then you have to step aside and let her purchase the car. "Veto" power is what you've exercised at the moment and that is not going to win a popularity contest. Explain to your daughter you love her, want to see her reach her 25th birthday, want her to be safe. If you are putting money into this project then you can veto it, but it won't be popular.

    As for a vehicle for teens. Nothing is perfectly safe, since we are talking about teen drivers. Best choices are mid sized sedans with safety features found on new cars and that makes it expensive. Since teens have little money older cars, smaller cars, and probably less safe cars are common. A Chevy Tracker is OK in a lot of respects. Its not a fast car, and excessive speed is the biggest issue with teens. It is "tippy" like all SUV's but it isn't as big and prone to tip over as many bigger SUV's. The tracker is not likely to have too many passengers since the rear seat is very cramped. I'd rather see my new driver in a Tracker, than a Mustang, or a hopped up Civic.

    Whatever car see gets SHE is the biggest safety issue. We told our son (driving since Aug. 08) that if he took more than one passenger he'd lose the car for a day, 2nd offense 5 days, 3rd offense 10 days, etc. Same if we saw him driving recklessly, like speeding on our neighborhood streets. So far only one offense, and he got the message we were serious. Set the rules and you and your husband need to line up on them and enforce them.

    Sharing a car between siblings is a matter for them to decide and work out. Lots of problems but it can be done. It is an area you need to stay TOTALLY out of. Don't get in the middle or try to act as referee on this. Have them make up a contract between themselves that you can act as a consultant. It should have a buyout provision when one person says they want to own the car individually how will the other be compensated. It should also how the costs of insurance, repairs, and maintenance are to be shared. The first time a dispute comes up you'll wish you had a contract. This a good opportunity for young people to learn about the responsibilities of owning a car, it isn't always fun.

    As a parent my concern is safety. I'd pony up for repairs of safety items, such as tires, brakes, and repairs that were safety issues with the cars. Gas, oil changes, were the kids responsibility. This system kept the relatively older cars they were driving as safe and maintained as possible. If she is driving a Tracker, with good tires and good brakes you can be a bit less nervous.

    At 20 years old you have to get OK with being uncomfortable about you daughter's safety. Her safety is becoming more of her responsibility for herself. If you have done your job teaching her how to be safe and responsible you've in the watch and see how it turns out stage. It is time to step back a bit, let her test her wings as she prepares to leave the nest.
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