Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Help buying a car for teen

…but I’m highly resistant to considering an American car. Sorry!

I believe the Ford Focus is an import, even if it does wear a Ford badge.

Depends on your definition. The Focuses are assembled in Ireland and are a joint effort between the American version of Ford and the British version. So the Focus is considered a domestic car both in the US and the UK.

Great! I was trying to get the OP to consider the Focus on its merits rather than a “domestic vs. foreign” prejudice. You have been a big help. :wink:

Ultimately, your daughters safety depends on her driving ability, not how many air-bags the car has…I mean, what are you going to do if she comes home from school on the back of some guys motorcycle?? Your duties and responsibilities as parents are in their sunset years… Just smile as say we love you…

You Have Forgotten The Golden Rule? Parents Have The Gold, They Rule.

This kid is only 17. I would guess there is still another 5-6 years that this child will be coming home for food, shelter, and money. I’ll bet there are rules there. Guess what? I’ll bet my child makes better decisions at 22 years-old and 4 years of college than he did at 17. I helped with that and it’s my responsibility to get him there. Now he seldom needs my help making wise decisions and doesn’t get it without asking.

That’s how it goes in my house. When the kids are on their own gold, they rule. What good does it do to graduate from college posthumously at the beginning of a career? A parent’s job is to teach the children to make wise decisions. Also, parents have a right to a good night’s sleep.

Using the logic of not caring how many air-bags a car has, why not just forget about air-bags, ABS brakes, seat belts, choosing a safe car, just drive very carefully in a little clown car and you’re good to go. Right. Some people figure when it’s their time to go, then there they go. They create a lot of opportunities for that to occur. I try to keep those opportunities to a minimum. That’s logical.

Mom has already stated she’s concerned (worried, actually) about “the other guy” and that is sensible. I’ve been hit by the other guy, before. Common sense wins these safety decisions every time. One needs to stack the deck in one’s favor. Generally, large, newer cars keep occupants safer than either smaller or older cars.
They do this for both highly skilled, careful drivers and not so good, not so careful drivers.

I’ve always wanted to be a parent and a friend. When I have to choose between the two, I will be a parent first and a friend, second. However, I’ve never had this problem. My kids follow my thinking. It’s just part of The Golden Rule.


My son 20th drives 02 focus 98K miles, I owned since new I drove it for few years then in 06 I passed on to him. It was designed in Germany/UK and most of the parts still being made in Europe. It is a good car.

Do not be afraid to buy from the right used car dealer. We have one in town that will even go on the web, if you wish, show you all used cars within 150 miles, beat their price, throw in a one year warranty and all maintenance.

The “Right Used Car Dealer”? That Sounds Like “Jumbo Shrimp”.

I’m just joking. Actually I have purchased six used cars from 4 different lots. Every one an American car and every one has been outstanding and an excellent value. I live in a sparsely populated area and I think that keeps the used car dealers honest, here. Should they have a few dissatisfied customers, half the people know within days.

I will say that buying used comes with some buyer responsibility. The buyer has to check carefully. I won’t buy a car that has had body work (unless really minor and reflected in the price). Buying one with a little factory warranty left is not a bad move, either. Also, I never buy prior to the 24 to 48 hour “test drive” to make sure it fits and has no puddles or starting or cold or hot running issues and I take a road trip or two. This cuts way down on the buyer’s remorse thing. I take the Owner’s Manual in and read it before purchasing, also. That’s all part of the buyer’s responsibility.


Volvo probaly is the safest car-but having owned 3 used Volvos ,Honda gets my nod-I noticed on the Volvo shop junk lot, the average mileage on the parts cars was about 130K.But as an aside,I would say these cars weren’t well maintained.
I have had as many used Hondas and at 130K, there getting thier second wind.

How much of the expenses is she handling herself?

Remember how you learned that you appreciate those things you earned?
Please don’t deprive her of that experience.

I have to agree with Caddyman.

I will only state that I would feel far more comfortable placing my daughters in a midsize car(domestic or foreign) as a new driver. I personally think owning a small car has many limitations, the only benefits are slightly better fuel mileage than an efficient midsize.

Since CSA won’t post his recommendation for the best, safest deal, I will do it instead (correct me if I’m wrong CSA) because it is worth mentioning, even though the OP and the OP’s daughter will hate me for it, but here goes…

The Buick Lesabre or Park Avenue are excellent cars to consider for a college student. They are very reliable, very comfortable, large (but still very easy to drive), powerful enough to be safe without being stupid, seats six adults comfortably, has a huge trunk for moving stuff, and gets 30mpg doing all that. It also is not likely to be the cruising car of choice for all her friends in college, so it will get driven less, requiring less maintenance. Depending on maturity level, you may want to rule out the Park Avenue Ultra, which adds a supercharger and dual exhaust that is good for another 60 horses. The base 3.8 already makes a healthy 200 horsepower and is probably one of the best engines on the road today, all makes and models considered, from a reliability and simplicity standpoint.

Not Bad, Not Bad. I Like The “Old Fashioned”, Reliable, Simple 3.8L (timing chain) Theory. There Are Other Safe Body Choices Attached To Them Besides Buicks, Too.

We’ve got 2 in our fleet. These babies “high idle” at 55 mph.

Some larger good Fords have been wisely suggested, too, although I am used to saying, “I don’t do Fords”. (This may change soon with the recent GM / Chrysler government take over.) The 07 Taurus sitting in my driveway yesterday that my son’s girlfriend owns is intelligent looking. These Fords have gotten much better while I’ve been ignoring them. That’s my fault.

Many of these larger, practical, safe, domestic badged cars are a bargain. Insurance companies and crash testers show respect toward them and they help college students make it through 4 years of college and help to assure that the parents’ sleep better.

I explained this theory to my son who just finished his four years. He’s into it (up with that?). He loves his Impala LS and its 2 front and driver’s “side air bag”, ABS, FWD, cruise, remote locks, alloys, spoiler, leather, premium sound, 3.8L 200 hp, 30+ hwy MPG, premium sound system, fold down 40/60 rear seat, large trunk, DIC, creature comforts, etcetera. There are tons of good cars like these out there at fantastic bargain prices.

Psssst Mark, let’s keep these cars a secret so that everybody doesn’t run out and buy all of them or enough of them to drive up the resale. Keep perpetuating the Japanese car myth. Don’t tell Mocromocro the secret. She doesn’t want to hear it.