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Car Wars: Parents and Teens Square Off

May 7, 2008
Here it is: The moment many of us have been dreading for...well...ever! The 'Apple of Daddy's Eye' is getting her drivers permit, and it is only a matter of time before she will be needing some wheels. You can't NOT get her something to drive, because then she will be riding with her friends--many of whom strike you as...well, let's say...somewhat less than reliable.

So...what to do? She wants something cool to drive , but she does not have enough of her own money to influence your decision. Of course, not having money has never prevented her from influencing all those other decisions...

But this time, THIS time, you are going to hang tough. You hope.

You, on the other hand, want something safe for her-- like maybe a Sherman tank--but you don't want her to feel like a geek, because that will make YOU look like a geek for getting her a geek-mobile.

One excellent choice here in sunny So. CA (where a car is presumed to say something about the driver within), is a "gently used" BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Audi, Infiniti, etc. These vehicles not only have the 'cachet' required by discriminating 16 and 17-year-olds, they are safe and well-built. They hold their value (some better than others) so they are worth something when she decides it is time to move on to the next thing (usually within a week or two).

Check with your bank or credit union about getting her a loan in her own name. It will be difficult, and impossible if she has no job, but you may have developed a strong enough relationship with them to carry the day. It doesn't hurt to ask. It also doesn't mean you won't have to bail her out or pay it outright, but the earlier that young people can establish car credit, the better.

Banks will happily accept you as a co-signer, but you should still shop around for a rate. You will want her listed as the owner, on the top line of the contract. Many times this detail is overlooked and a wonderful opportunity to establish rock-solid credit is missed.

Don't forget about the insurance factor! Adults have a tendency to forget just how much it costs for kids to insure their cars. It can easily exceed the amount of the monthly loan repayment, and if it is a sports car you might want to take back a second mortgage.

So, try to relax a little if you can, bite the bullet, do your homework. You knew it wouldn't be easy, you knew it was coming...but why did it have to come so soon?

It is the loss of control that is so mortifying, the thought that they have somehow moved beyond your sphere of influence. Just remember-- you raised them right, you armed them well...and anyway, what can you do? You can't exactly ground them for life....

Or can you? Hmmm....
About the Author
To claim your copy of 'The 7 Biggest Mistakes that Car Buyers Make' please visit CAR FU: Self-Defense for Car Buyers Peter W. Robinson is the founder of Movinmetal,Inc., a car buying and consulting service located north of San Diego, and author of 'CAR FU: Self-Defense for Car Buyers'.
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