3 steps for buying your teen’s first car
First Car

So, your teen just passed their final road test and are a fully licensed driver – a blessing and a curse. Maybe they’ve been saving for it, or maybe it’s a birthday gift – either way, it might be time for their first car. But how do you know which car is the right one for them? How much should it cost? We asked our partner, CarCostCanada for tips on how to navigate the car-buying process. They’re experts on everything from choosing the right model to understanding how to negotiate the right price.

CarCostCanada™ offers free dealer invoice price reports to Canadians that help you save money when buying or leasing a new car. They give you the dealer’s cost, information about hidden incentives, plus other valuable information about most new vehicles sold in Canada. By using their reports, you become a member of their network with access to many benefits including personal buying advice, specific regional details with available elevated purchase or lease experiences.
Step 1: Finding the right car

It’s hard to tell what kind of car is right for a person, but consider the type of car your teen used to practice driving. They might’ve gotten accustomed to being more elevated driving a SUV, or maybe they feel more comfortable parking a smaller car. It’s also important to narrow down what they need out of their car; if they’re going to be driving a lot, maybe pick a car that can handle more mileage and will be good on gas.

You’ll also want to consider if they’re going to buy a new car or a used car. Both are great options, it just depends on the usage and their budget. A used car might be cheaper to buy, but can sometimes warrant more repairs and could be more expensive to insure. At the same time, driving a used car for your first set of wheels is always a humbling experience!

Tip: If your teen is going to be “inheriting” mom or dad’s car, you’ll want to make sure they’re listed as the primary driver on your auto insurance policy.
Step 2: Money stuff

Once they’ve picked the type of car, you should compare different make and models from various dealers to see how the prices differ. You can also use the free price report from CarCostCanada to understand the dealership cost of the car. That way, you can cross-reference this with your budget to see if it’s an affordable option for you (or your teen). “Basically, this price report will show you how much the dealership paid to get the car from the manufacturer and put it on their lot for people to buy. The difference between the full (“MSRP” or “sticker”) price and the cost price on the report shows you how much “wiggle room” the dealership has to negotiate. CarCostCanada can also provide price guidance on each report to show you how much you should pay the dealer.

From there, you and your teen should discuss how they’re going to budget for their car payments, gas money, and insurance on a monthly basis. It’s important to do this before you actually buy the car. For example, you can get an auto insurance quote from Sonnet to see their premium options to get a sense of how much they should budget. Also, if you’re buying them an older used car, you’ll want to consider the repairs – encourage them to start a “rainy day” savings account that’s strictly for pricey car repairs.

Step 3: Head to the dealership

Now that you and your teen are armed with all of the information you need, you can head into the dealership knowing exactly what you want. Dealing with a salesperson can be an overwhelming experience, as they might try and rope you into the “deals of the day” and upgrades that you might not need. Having your research ready will help you make informed decisions while you’re there. You can even read reviews of the dealership you’re going to. Or, if you become a member with CarCostCanada, they can suggest professional dealerships (that they partner with) so you can have an easy, stress-free buying experience.

Also, don’t discount the importance of the test drive – you both may have done all the research, but if the car doesn’t feel right, listen to that feeling. Happy hunting!