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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Just an opinion of a dad who also had two teenage drivers and a Tracker (Suzuki Sidekick) at a different time. What ever you decide upon for a car DONOT get an inexperienced driver a Tracker(even the later model). Cars like them are the prime reason for SUV warning labels. At speed on a highway, they are DANGEROUS in any sudden move or a crosswind w/o lots of driving experience and even with. They are on par with the early Bronco rollover kings. (That’s why they changed their name to Explorer)

Kid’s savings ultimately come from our financial support. We’re the boss. We all love our kids as do you and putting them in a Tracker/Sidekick would scare the heck out of many knowing parents.
I recommend the latest model compact with the most safety features you can afford. .
We did the Corolla/Prism thing, but many others will do. They were not “look at me” cars, but that isn’t a parent’s concern. At least they have one, until you used it for “leverage”; then they could ride their bike…with a helmet of course.

You’d be popular in any concerned parent household…

Maybe this is a big mistake.

Maybe, but they are old enough to be out of the nest and making their own mistakes. Funny thing about kids, they often do better than you expect.

The questions you brought up are all subject to opinion. Don’t try and force your opinion on them. I am thankful I did not force my opinion on my kids. Most of the time they made very good decisions, and both have turned out great.

Don’t worry be happy. They will love you all the more for it.

I’m wondering about the whole ‘sharing’ thing - this sounds like a huge problem in the making. And while a 20 year old female may be trustworthy with a Tracker (as long as it’s '99 or newer), I’d worry about a 16 year old male.

Kid’s savings untimately come from our financial support. We’re the boss.

I couldn’t agree more. Until the child becomes an adult and is emancipated, the parents still have a say. As a child becomes older, the child should make more of his/her own decisions. However, the parents still have veto power.

As I read this board, there are often postings asking advice on what automobile to purchase and these postings come from adults who earn their own living. I don’t think a teen ager usually has the best criterion to select a first car. When I was in college and didn’t have a car, I was with my dad while his car was being serviced at a dealership. My dad, the owner of the agency and I were sitting around shooting the bull. The agency had a used Porsche on the lot. I jokingly said to my dad that he should buy that car for me. The owner of the agency laughed and said, “That is the last car you should have. The repairs will gobble up all your tuition money”. Even when I was a graduate student, I made a car purchase that was a mistake. I had purchased a 1947 Pontiac for $75 to get me to graduate school. After I had saved some money from my assistantship, I traded the 1947 Pontiac for a 1955 Pontiac. The 1955 had just been overhauled and I thought it should be good for a while. It was a disaster. Fortunately my dad was going to trade in his 1954 Buick for a new car. I swapped the Pontiac for his Buick and we both came out ahead. The dealer gave him a better trade-in allowance for the Pontiac than he would have gotten for the Buick, and I got bailed out of my poor purchase.

I really appreciate these responses. Especially the previous Tracker with teens owner. The college my daughter attends is 400 miles away on fast truck happy highways through the mountains. I am more than happy to let them learn from their own mistakes, but I don’t think it has to be at 65mph on a highway with a car that they can’t control as well as another. They did not research safety at all, only price and cute-factor. They can learn from the experience of the challenging decision to share expenses in this endeavor or what happens when you don’t set an alarm and are late to work. There are so many other opportunities they will have to fly free and fail, so I’m not worried about depriving them of this one.

Opinion forcing has not happened much in this household and every parent I know has actually been much less lenient. We are agreeing to pay for the insurance, while they will be paying for the gas, installments, repairs - although the safety repairs, I agree, we should foot.

She’ll hate that Tracker after one or two highway trips. It will blow around like a kite in the wind, and the wake from one of those big trucks is enough to push it into another lane.

I wouldn’t want to drive a Tracker under those conditions.

Since you are contributing money this venture, you DO have a say. I was under the impression the kids were funding this themselves. Try to reason with them. A Tracker is a cute little run-around, but it’s not a good vehicle for highway travel.

How much is the insurance for a Tracker, compared to, say, a Corolla?

I think you are mistaking the Tracker for the Samurai. The Tracker/Sidekick is not nearly as prone to rollovers at the Sammy was.

Given you’re footing part of the bill, you can exercise some control. There are hundreds of different models/years of used cars available. Buy them a Consumer Reports used car buying guide, have them spend some timing finding a GOOD used car. This could teach them a lot about how to thoughtfully spend on the second-biggest purchase (next to a house). “It’s cute” is not a good reason!

Experience is the toughest teacher: it gives you the test first and the lesson after. Surviving the test in a Tracker is the key. This where your experience comes in.

An idea would be to rent a tracker of find one to borrow and take her on a test drive through simialr conditions to see if she still likes it as much.

I would not feel bad about the veto. You are contributing to this car in insurance and repair so you at leat have equal say.