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How to Choose a Car for Your Teen

If that old family clunker is less than reliable, this guide will help protect your newly licensed teen driver without breaking the bank.


  • Step 1: Check Check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website at "": for a list of vehicles that perform the best in a variety of crashes.
  • Step 2: Determine a budget Determine your budget for both the cost of the car as well as the cost of insurance and fuel.
  • Step 3: Splurge on safety Splurge on added safety features such as side curtain airbags and 24-hour roadside assistance.
  • Step 4: Avoid SUVs Avoid sports utility vehicles. Their higher centers of gravity make them more prone to rollover accidents.
  • TIP: Focus on midsize vehicles with good safety records. Small and compact cars can be just as dangerous as SUVs.
  • Step 5: Check acceleration and braking distances Find a vehicle that accelerates from zero to 60 in 8 to 11 seconds and avoid ones that take longer than 145 feet to stop in dry conditions.
  • TIP: Evaluate weather conditions in your area and choose vehicles that perform best in rain, mud, or snow.
  • Step 6: Compromise with teen Make some compromises if you have an image-conscious teen, knowing that any newer vehicle you buy is safer than an old clunker anyway.
  • FACT: In 2008, seatbelt use increased to its highest level ever 83 percent among all drivers.

You Will Need

  • Internet access
  • Budget

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