First Time Driver Resources

Sixteen is a milestone age, for both parents and teens. Soon it will be time for the learner’s permit and PA driver’s test. Along with the permit test and driver’s test comes the inevitable family discussion of what type of car to buy, who will buy it, where to buy it, and how to buy it. This can understandably be an anxious and stressful time for any household.

A sixteen year old may envision cruising around in a vehicle that has as much personality as they do, even if it is completely impractical. Parents are frequently more concerned about the safety and reliability of their child’s first vehicle. Although there is a desire to help them find the vehicle of their “Sweet 16” dreams, ultimately there are safety and practical considerations that must enter the discussion as well.

Doing research as a family can help narrow the divide dramatically. Inevitability some questions are going to arise in the process. Here at the Ron Lewis Automotive Group we would like to offer enthusiastic assistance to families starting this process, so anxiety and stress can be replaced by excitement and smiles!

Let us know if you have other questions that were not covered in this FAQ – We’re happy to help explore options with you and find the best vehicle for your first-time driver!

At the Ron Lewis Automotive Group, we feel strongly about text-free driving, especially as a precedent for the first-time driver. Please consider signing this No Texting While Driving pledge in your family – Yes, “It Can Wait.”


“Top 5” Frequently Asked Questions we receive at the Ron Lewis Automotive Group regarding First Time Drivers

Q: What are some other features first time drivers should look for?
A:

  1. Safety first! Check into the vehicle’s safety ratings and air bag configuration. You don’t want something that will overwhelm a novice driver with power or that will be difficult to maneuver for them.
  2. Fuel economy — This is important to consider for the person who will be paying for the gas!
  3. Parts and serviceability is also something to think about – Getting a vehicle that is an older model year, foreign make, or has unique or hard to get parts can lead to time and cost issues when a repair is required.
  4. Utility – Think about what the vehicle will be used for. Is it going to haul sports equipment? Will they be driving other family members? Will they often drive long distance or in inclement conditions? This will help narrow down what size vehicle, and whether or not you need a 4×4.
  5. Technology — Look for technology features that assist with stereo volume, traffic alerts, parking, as well as Bluetooth options that allow your novice driver to keep his/her hands on the wheel.
Q: Is vehicle insurance more economical on a new vehicle or a pre-owned vehicle for my first time/teen driver?
A: It’s best to consult with your licensed insurance agent on this one. There are many factors that go into establishing an insurance premium such as the safety rating on the vehicle, the security features, as well as the driving record (or lack thereof) of the drivers listed on the insurance policy.
Q: Should we consider leasing instead of buying for our first time driver?
A: We think it is a fantastic idea to lease a car as your first car! Leasing allows you to drive a brand new vehicle for low monthly payment. In the case of a teen driver, it also gives them flexibility as they make a new set of life decisions after the lease matures, whether it be college, job, or service related. Leases allow a new driver to drive an economical and safe car while typically keeping their payments lower than traditional long term financing. It also eliminates the risk of negative equity at the end of the lease.
Q: What makes and models do you recommend?
A: There are so many great options!

Here are three suggestions from each of our manufacturers that are good choices for the first time driver:

  1. Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram offers several great options: The Dodge Dart, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade
  2. Ford Motor Company offers: The Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Ford Escape. (Ask us about newly launched MyKey technology).
  3. Chevrolet offers: The Chevrolet Malibu (with Teen Driver features available on the 2016 model), Chevrolet Sonic, and Chevrolet Trax.
  4. Kia also has great options: The Kia Optima, Kia Sportage, and Kia Soul.
  5. Certified pre-owned (CPO) can be another good option for young drivers –CPO vehicles are thoroughly checked according to manufacturer specifications and come with additional manufacturer warranty coverage, in some cases even more coverage than a similar new car.
Remember: In order for your first time driver to actually test drive a vehicle, they need to have a valid driver’s license!
Q: What are the credit and financial considerations for a first time vehicle purchase?
A: If the first time buyer is still developing credit history, they may need a co-signer. Often banks view no credit as negatively as bad credit. Unless the first time driver has a well-established credit history, getting approved for a lease or loan is going to be a challenge without a co-signer. It may be difficult to get approved for a longer term loan or an advantageous rate without a co-signer. That being said, money down will always help. We can also help you identify banks that have special programs for first time buyers.

In the situation where a young student has a large debt to income ratio (e.g. student loans), it can also be difficult to be approved for a loan or a lease without a co-signer, even if the payments are made on-time. After the person has established credit that is kept current, they will be able to get a vehicle on their own in a few years without a co-signer.

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