Parent needs help


I am helping my eighteen year old look for a car. I want it to be a safe car. He wants a Honda Fit. It has loads of safety features, but the small size scares me in the event of an accident. He is also looking at a Mazda3 Hatchback. What do you think is the better choice for a teenager?


A better choice for a teenager is a car that you won’t mind him messing up! We bought our daughter a 1998 Mercury Sable with 50000 miles. Paid less than $2000.00. She had a minor fender bender and has paid for the repair. There are still some dents in the outside, but she paid for the big stuff. She’s happy to have a vehicle, and we know she’s likely to have another fender bender in the school parking lot. There’s some kind of rule about it.

If your teenager doesn’t go to the places where the others go, like the mall, the ballgame, high school, parking lot hangouts, buy him a new car. Otherwise, I suggest an older one! Usually their cheaper to fix, too! Good luck!


My suggestion would have been to get him a Honda Fit or a Mazda3 hatchback. These are excellent choices for those fortunate to be given a new car. No problems with safety. But jukirk’s suggestion above is far better than mine. Since you control the pursestrings, go with a pre-owned dull, boring car. It will be good dent practice.


Agree that a teenager’s first car should be reliable, cheap to fix and have some “crush space”. Any car in this category that has rapid depreciation, modest power, and can carry his or her friends to the football game is OK. A new car would be a waste of money. So a Sable, Taurus, Malibu, Pontiac Grandam or a 4 year old Hyundai Sonata would fit the bill. I would avoid Chrysler products, Jeeps (tip over too easy), SUVs, trucks, Volkswagens, and any high powered car. I would not go over $5000.

Good Luck!


Thanks for the replies. He has been driving a 1993 accord for the last two years. He has saved some money and wants something “cooler”. I will be helping and so have some say in the decision. The car we get will not necessarily be new, but will be late model. My main concern is the safety factor with the Fit. It has gotten good crash test results, just a little paranoid about small size.


The FIT and Mazda3 will likely fare significantly much better than a 1993 Accord due to a concentration on vehicle safety in design of late 2000’s vehicles. It will especially be superior in a side impact crash due to the side air bags.

A 1993 Accord is not much larger than a Mazda 3 hatchback.

Both cars he likes are excellent newer choices for a newer driver.


A 4cyl pick-up. They have FRAMES under them. They say “transportation” not “I’m cool”…


I bought my daughter a Saturn they get 30+ miles per gallon & they have plastic side panels. they are very safe & resist door dings & minor bumps associated with beginner drivers.


Good luck finding a used Fit. They’re fairly new, and most dealerships have a hard time keeping the NEW ones on the lot, and prices for used ones will most likely be fairly close to that of a brand new one.


Try not to get too hung up on size. Safety ratings are blind to the size of the vehicle, and engineers have done some amazing things to make small cars safe. (ever seen the wrecks Formula 1 drivers survive?) Barring getting run over by an 18-wheeler, the crash test ratings will predict safety better than your instinct. If you really want to protect him from getting run over by an 18-wheeler you’ll have to buy him one, but they roll over easily, are hard to stop, and don’t usually come with air bags.


I don’t think there is any one right answer. As for size, my first car was a dealer demo, a Sunbeam Imp that I paid about $600.00 for. That car weighed in at 1,200 lbs, that was less than a VW, I could pick up the front end myself (it was rear engine. OK small car One night I was driving on the Interstate at about 1:00 am. BANG I was hit by a Greyhound bus, the driver’s first and last run. I was not injured. Some years later I sold it to a co-worked, in less that a week he fell asleep himself and drive it into the back of a parked Chevy Impala at 70 mph. He totaled the car and ended up with just a few scratches and sore shoulder where the seat belt caught him. Size matters in some things, but not always in cars.

Who is paying for the car. If he is (and he should be) then he should choose. BTW I did pay for that Imp.


whatever car he has, just remind him about the blind spot when glancing to the left at a stop sign; we should turn our heads and look with both eyes. Traffic signals out in the country don’t have green left turn arrows and the oncoming traffic has a green light too and will hit you if you turn left in front of them. Extra following distance has saved a lot of people from crashing.


Lots of excellent suggestions. The biggest one, though, is to specifically avoid anything “cool”. You want safety and economy, not something he and his friends want to ram around in. Other than that, there’s a lot of wisdom in forcing financial reponsibility on your teen. Help and guide, yes, but for heaven’s sake don’t give him a car.