Is your new driver license burning a hole in your pocket? You may be asking yourself: "What's the point of having one when I don't have wheels?"
Your parents may have many valid reasons for not wanting you to have your own car just yet. However, with a little research and a well-thought-out pitch that addresses their concerns, you may be able to lay those fears to rest and get the independence that comes with a set of car keys. Remember to pick a vehicle that will fit their budget and bring up the following points to seal the deal. We have suggested some cars at the end of this article to help get you started.
1. Explain that the car you're proposing is really safe: Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so it's understandable that your parents are worried about you being in the driver seat. But by listing the safety features in your car-to-be — such as excellent crash-test scores, front and side airbags, electronic stability control and its size (neither too big nor too small) — you'll go a long way toward addressing their concerns.
2. Say that the car gets great fuel mileage — and doesn't need premium fuel: With the soaring price of gas, your extracurricular activities just add another expense to your folks' monthly bills. By being sensitive to their finances with a high-mpg car that doesn't need premium fuel and by offering to pay for your own gas, this will quickly become a nonissue.
3. Tell them that the car has good residual value: Parents like to know that they are getting a good value, and it's a bonus if the car they buy holds its value longer. Show that you've done the research by consulting Edmunds Best Retained Value Awards®, which rank the top carmakers and cars that have the best residual values.
4. Explain that you'll help pay for the car: If your parents are on the brink of coming around, these words may be enough to win them over. Taking on the financial burden of car payments demonstrates that you are maturing and are ready for some responsibilities of your own. It takes some of the stress of more expenses off your parents' shoulders.
5. Discuss the fact that the car has a low True Cost to Own: This is a natural follow-up to offering to help pay for the car. A vehicle with a low True Cost to Own (TCO)® means that it is affordable to maintain and to own. That's a desirable trait for any student on a budget. The Edmunds True Cost to Own page lets you type in the name of any car and see its ownership costs, including depreciation, interest on the car loan, taxes and fees, insurance, fuel costs, maintenance and repairs.
6. Talk about insurance discounts: If you're a good student, you may find that a lot of auto insurance companies offer discounts for you. Research any other possible insurance discounts such as for economy cars, resident students and safety features.
7. Put your car to work: Emphasize that you and your new car will help out with the household chores — and mean it. Let Mom and Dad know that the car's cargo space will be used to hold groceries and the passenger seat will serve to shuttle both of them to their various appointments.
8. Promise to abide by a driving agreement: Sign a contract with your parents agreeing to a curfew and other laws that apply to teen drivers in your state, such as limits on the number and age of passengers that you can carry. The typical teen driving agreement also covers such items as mobile phone restrictions, seatbelt use and other safety measures, many of which are dictated by the laws in your state. As much as you may hate it, volunteering to draw up and abide by a driving agreement may make the difference between getting your own car and having to ride the bus for several more years. A mature attitude toward these rules shows your parents that you mean business.
9. Bring up safety again: You're just starting out and your parents want to make sure that their baby will be OK, so repeat that the car is safe and promise (and keep your word) to not drive fast, to never drive impaired and to always wear a seatbelt.
10. Show your work: Remind them that if you're responsible enough to do all this research, you're responsible enough to have your own car.
To get you started on the road to your own car, here are some suggestions from Edmunds.com. First is a list of one new and three used cars that will definitely appeal to parents, thanks to a combination of their value and safety features. You can read more about these cars — and others that your parents might pick for you — in The Best Cars for Teen Drivers:
The following new cars are ones whose styling, flair and features might particularly appeal to you as a young driver. They also fit with the arguments you're going to make to your parents. Each is a midsize sedan (which will appeal to your parents' safety concerns) with a sticker price that's under $25,000 (which will appeal to their pocketbooks) and top safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (safety again — you can't stress it too much):
Rehearse your talk a few times, find a quiet evening when everyone is relaxed and make your presentation with care and conviction. Soon you'll be shopping for, driving and enjoying your very own car. And you'll really have earned it.
To find a dealership that knows how to treat shoppers right, please visit Edmunds.com's Dealer Ratings and Reviews.