Does Your Teen Drive Their Own Car?

Updated on September 24, 2013
A.G. asks from Houston, TX
21 answers

Or do you share?

Did you buy the car your teen is driving, or did your teen buy it, or did you guys split it?

What were the circumstances leading up to our teen driving? Example 1) what were some of the agreements you made before they got the car (like no texting, no driving after dark etc etc). 2) who was going to pay for gas, insurance, repairs.

How didyou guys come up with these decisions?

And while I'm at it, what kind of cars are teens into these days? Here in Houston, driving a truck is pretty standard. But alot of the kids are driving Mustangs and 4 door Jeeps.

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answers from San Francisco on

Oldest had a scooter.

Middle bought her own new car with her own money because she worked a lot and drove a lot and I wanted her to have something reliable.

Youngest doesn't drive much, so we're giving him the old, peeling paint car with 100+K miles on it. He buys his own gas.

We pay for insurance for the two youngest, and we took over the car payments for my daughter when she went to school full time this fall. At that point, she had paid off most of the car herself. But she's working and paying her own rent, food, etc., plus taking out her own school loans.

I don't think it matters what kind of cars they are into -- I think they should be given whatever vehicle is available, unless they are willing to work to pay for it themselves.

The agreements should be all the usual agreements. If they break them they should lose the privilege.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

We have multiple teen drivers in the house so our situation is that as soon as my oldest we're ready to drive and passed their driver's license tests, we knew a car was going to have to come into the picture. My two oldest daughters are twins so both of them were licensed at 16 years old and everything with the car here was times two. My husband and I didn't want them driving our cars as they were both new and until we could see how it all was going to play out, we bought a very cute and immaculate 2007 Honda Civic for the girls to share. We bought the car but gas and insurance payments were coming from the two of them. They both had jobs and seeing as insurance for teen drivers is a nightmare of expense, it was the least they could do to pay the gas and the insurance since they got a free car. When the older two went off to college, they both got 50cc scooters and the car stays here. That was just in the nick of time as daughter #3 now drives the Honda while they are gone. Daughter #4 just got her license as well a month ago so the two younger ones share the Honda and the same payment arrangements are in effect.....gas and insurance is on their dime. When the older girls are home, they are allowed to borrow and drive either my husbands Jeep Liberty or my Hyundai Sonata. Gas is on their dime. I have seen a lot of different cars being driven by teenagers where we live but nothing really outrageous. A lot of Honda's like we have because they are wonderful cars built for safety and easy on the gas. A lot of guys have trucks or muscle cars and a few convertibles are in the mix too. Some were given to the kids, some were purchased by the teen. I think it depends on what each family feels they can afford and what rules they want to have. For us, buying them a safe, dependable, easy to drive car was a must. But, I'm not paying for all that insurance and gas.....they are. When each of our girls started to drive, anytime they left with the car and made any move from one place to another, they had to text me to check in. What I mean by texting is when they reach their destination....not text while driving! I did this for the first year that they were driving and then just told them to text me if they were going somewhere I didn't know about or if, god forbid, there was a problem. So far, so good. With the four girls driving, we have not had one fender bender, accident, ticket, or ounce of trouble. My big rules are NO TEXTING when they are behind the wheel, no drinking and driving ever, no horsing around and funny business as a driver, they have to always wear their seat belts, and no lending the car to anyone else unless it's one of their sisters. As long as they are being safer drivers, abiding by the laws, and I don't hear crazy stories about them with the car, they will have the right to drive and exercise that freedom. So far, the driving escapades in our house have gone smoothly and there have not been problems with the rules or the fact that we all have an agreement on how things work around here with the cars. I'm now. Knocking on wood because it's really rare to not have one single hiccup when we are talking about four teenagers and driving! OMG! We are freaking LUCKY!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I bought a new car and gave my daughter my old car. It's a Mercury Sable. She was just happy to not have to share a car.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We shared a vehicle with our teens til a friend gave us a car when SS was 18 and had a job. Care and feeding of the car was up to him but it was ours and we could revoke it whenever. When he graduated college, he got a used Subaru as a gift. We could not afford a car for SD (no friends had one to give like the first time) so when SS's old car died, she went back to using our van. Now she lives in an apartment off campus and uses the bus system. In HS, they couldn't get parking so they took the bus almost all the time. SS did get parking part of his junior year when he was on the football team but then he changed schools and was in walking distance.

Some of our agreements regarding driving included 1. you drive solo when WE SAY you drive solo. That piece of paper or arbitrary number of hours means nothing. If we could not trust you, you were not behind our wheel. Friend of ours lost a good friend when someone's teen son got his mom's minivan up to 90MPH and it jumped a curb and landed on him. Kids are stupid. We read SS the riot act when he got a ticket for going 92 and was angry at the cop because he didn't "feel unsafe". Oh, really? So you think going 92 was a good idea? Had he been in our car or been a teen, we would have pulled his keys for that one. If they can't show good judgement, they shouldn't drive. If they can't be home on time, they shouldn't drive.

2. No friends until we say so, and the state has a limit on number of kids in the car and ages.

3. NO TEXTING or handheld phones. No messing with the GPS, etc. SD learned the hard way that this means not even on that little residential road...she ran into another vehicle when she was on the phone with me. Had I realized she was driving vs pulled over, I would have old her to pull over and call me back.

4. They pay for gas, insurance and most repairs. If it is their car (like SS's) we do none of the above. It is HIS car. With "our" car, the gas and insurance is on them, the repairs on us.

5. Use sense. No driving while too tired (same as being drunk), no being on the cell phone more than absolutely necessary (even on a bluetooth), no eating and not paying attention, etc.

A license requires insurance. They were not required to get a license. But if they did not, then they needed a state ID and a bus route map.

I would NOT put a kid in a Mustang. Get him/her a standard econobox that will take him/her from A to B. Want more? Work hard.

Screw the standard. YOU make the standard in YOUR home.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Yes, my teen drives his own car... BUT......

- He drove the family car for almost the whole first year he had his license.
- He had to work for the money to buy a car - which really was no problem because he already had a part-time job and he's a very responsible young man - when he had saved up $3000 he started looking. Since I knew how responsible he was, I offered to add $1000 and loan him $1000 so he could get a better car. He paid me back in no time!
- He pays for all his own gas and repairs.
- Absolutely NO cell phone use while driving!!! Whether he's a teen or a full-fledged adult; that's just common sense!!!
- His car is a little Saturn ION; they don't make them any more.

Even though we're in the "country" most the kids around here drive little cars. There are a few that drive the little pick-ups but not many.

There are several parents that have bought their kids' cars for them but I don't feel that is teaching them anything about responsibility. In fact, my son and I had this discussion and even though I really couldn't afford to buy him a car, he was fine with working for it. I think he's taken better care of it knowing he paid for it.

Since my son is a really good kid, I don't mind paying for his insurance - he's on our policy and we get a good discount because of having multiple cars and for him having Straight A's, so it's not really that much. Plus, now that he's in college full-time, which he is also paying toward, I try to give him a break when I can.

Good luck!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We have three cars, my car (the family car) a compact sedan and a sports car. When my oldest started driving we let him drive the sedan and my husband started commuting to work in his sports car. We pay a fixed amount for gas ($40 a week) and all the insurance. I don't mind because the high school is WAY on the other side of town and I am so glad not to have to make that drive every day (no buses) not to mention I don't have to go take them to and from their sports practices or babysitting jobs!
As far as rules, of course that's just common sense and following the law. Here in California there are curfews and restrictions for first year drivers and of course it's illegal to text and drive and they KNOW that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

When our children were growing up (they're all in their thirties now), they started by driving the family car. When they had enough driving experience under their belts and my husband thought they were responsible enough, he found a clunker (it was passed down from kid to kid). That car was so old it was nothing for them to brag about or race in (I wonder if that car was capable of racing!); it was just a set of wheels that saved them from the embarrassment of being chauffeured by Mom.

The rules were: they had to let us know where they were going and when they would be back. They could drive NO friends for the first several months. They lost the car if they were ticketed. They had to pay for gas.

They were covered by our insurance.

There wasn't a question of cell phones or texting at the time, but there would have been rules about them if we were doing it today. The "no friends" was the equivalent, I think. It made a big difference.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My older kids saved up for their first car, both had more than enough money to buy a nice car when they turned 16, then grandpa bought them a car. So the money is still in savings, o well.

The rules were only, you put gas in it, you maintain it and you pay the insurance for it.

They are adults now.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

When my daughter got her license we gave her my husband's car, it is an 11 year old Lancer. He takes the train to work every day so it isn't a big deal for him not to have a car. She will be off to college next fall, so the car will go back to my husband and she will only have it on breaks and summer. We pay for the insurance and gas for her. She did work all summer, but we don't have her work during the school year because she takes 3 AP classes and plays school sports and is in many clubs and that is more important to us than her having a job to pay for those things. If we couldn't afford to help her out it might be a different story. She also run errands for us including helping out picking up her brother from practices and activities so it helps us out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I don't have teens yet, but when I started driving I saved up money for a car and my parents helped me out and paid half. In order to have a car I had to have a job, and I was required to pay for my own gas, insurance and repairs. No driving after dark seems like a silly restriction. I regularly used my car to get home from late night shits at work, and that was partly the point in having a car, so I wouldn't have to take the bus home late at night. I think I would require teens to keep cell phones in the trunk of the car when driving so they aren't tempted to use them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

They drove our car to learn how. They went through a driver's ed program. They got their license. They had to do a "safe driving" thing through our insurance to get a discount and the had to get good grades to qualify for the safe driver's discount. They had nobody in the car with them but us for the first 6 months and then no more than one other kid till 1 yr. They called or texted when they got to a destination for a while. Then they still did it for anywhere they drove at night for a while.
The cheapest cars to insure were 4 cylinder, 4 doors. So we got a used one of those with over 100,000 miles. They passed it down, kid to kid.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm not there yet (my oldest is six), but I will definitely get a car for my kids when they are old enough to drive, assuming they are responsible, well behaved kids. I won't buy them a new one. They will either get a hand me down (if my husband or I have a decent car but are ready for a new one for ourselves), or we will shop for a used one together. If we have to buy one for the kids, I will probably have them share the cost.

My kids will be responsible for buying their own gas. I will help with repairs and insurance until they are finished with college. After that, they're on their own!

They will likely get a four door sedan (compact or mid size), but I guess we'll have to see when the time comes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I think for each family they make this decision based on their needs as a family.

Our daughter did not need her own car as a teen or in college so if she needed a ride we discussed whether she would use my car or if I would be able to take and pick her up.

BUT she had quite a few friends that needed a car for many different reasons.

Families where both parents worked full time and their children were extremely active in all sorts of activities and or their teens worked after school or during the summer. .

Families that had also younger children so the older ones drove these siblings to school and to some after school activities because both parents worked full time.

Most of the kids we know are in advanced classes as well as after school activities, so they are pretty responsible kids,

Some of them were able to work a little bit, but most could not work while in full time school taking all advanced or AP classes as well as play sports, or be in theater, Band, Orchestra.. etc..

So the parents either gave them the use of the old family car and the parents purchased new cars for themselves. or They purchased used cars for these teens to use.

My nephews father gave him the old family truck and my nephew was to earn money for the gas and insurance, but that did not last long, sine my nephew was in every sport with training, practices, games and expected to take his younger sister to and from school. He just could not find a job because of his schedule. In the summer he would take on the jobs he could find, but it did not bring in much money.

These other teens did take on some baby sitting, some very part time or seasonal jobs etc.

In our family our daughter knew to never text or talk on the phone while driving. She learned this from me. I NEVER am on the phone while driving. I find a spot and pull over. Even if I am receiving a call, I will not answer. Never have. I am just not coordinated or capable of doing this.

Plus once we had a classmates mother killed in an accident because of a driver that was texting, we knew this was never going to work for us.

Our daughter did babysit, she worked for my business and did some tutoring, so she had money, but I did not make her pay for the gas.

I did give her money when her friends drove. Many of them were on very limited budgets, so I would slip $10 to $20. to our daughter to give these friends for gas. Remember this was during the time that gas prices were really high.

We paid for the insurance. We still do, but our daughter still does not own a car, she does not need one. She lives where public transportation is excellent.

So you as a family need to come up with what you need, and what you think your child can handle.

Be realistic. You know your child the best. Give them expectations and come up with consequences, but also know needs do change very quickly, so be prepared to deal with this.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My son drives a 1990 Toyota Camry - which came from his grandparents when they got a new car. My daughter drives my old 2002 CRV. The CRV has many issues, so it doesn't go far. If they are at college together in the summer, they share the Camry. Neither can have a car at school during the year, so we keep the cars at home.
We pay for insurance and taxes. We pay for gas because it is convenient for us that they have the car. Next year, my son will be a senior and will be able to have the car at school. That will eliminate a lot of driving on our part! :)

We also had both kids take a defensive driving course. Those have been very beneficial.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

My kids don't drive yet but when I was young, my parents had 1 extra car that my sister and I shared use of but my parents owned. Mom and Dad paid the insurance and it was registered in my dad's name. They filled the gas tank once. My sister and I had to have permission to use it and had to fill the gas tank every time, so we each paid for our own gas. My dad is handy and did all our car repairs himself. My parents viewed it as a convenience for them that there was a car we could use that didn't impact their driving needs, a privilege that we could earn use of a car, and also something they ultimately had control over.

What kind of car? Something safe and reliable. Definitely used. I've read that a pick up truck with a regular, not extended, cab is a good choice for new drivers. It limits the number of friends (aka distractions) that can come along, and is useful when parents need the kids to run errands to Home Depot. LOL. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

both our kids got hand-me-downs. my older son got my husband's pick-up, which he loved so much he actually cried when we told him. my younger got his grandparents' cast-off escort wagon which didn't generate nearly as much excitement. but he's no fool- he understood how lucky he was.
he was much more excited when he got my old sable, but it wasn't as great a deal as we all hoped it would be. it had well over 100K miles and it hasn't been nearly as wonderful and reliable for him as it was for me. but he's in college, can't afford a new car and we can't afford to buy him one.
my older son paid for his insurance from the gitgo. our younger is still on our insurance and we're paying for it. we've mellowed<G>. they both paid for all their own gas and repairs. if a repair has been more than they could swing, we've paid for it but they've paid us back.
all in all, my kids were luckier than my husband and i were. we both bought our own. but they are very appreciative.
i will break their fingers (husband too) if i ever catch them texting while driving!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

When our daughter was old enough to drive, we taught her to drive our stick shift Ford Ranger. It was a small truck, with plenty of power to get her where she needed to go.

We gave it to her to drive, however, it belonged to us and we never made her believe she was the owner of the truck.

She wrecked every end of that truck and when she wrecked it into a parked car in a parking lot and denied knowing what happened, I took the keys. She said she needed to go to work and I told her she did because she was going to pay for the deductible. She roller bladed to work.

This was before texting and driving was a problem.

On another note, my nephews best friend and drummer for the band he played in was home from college and driving home from a night out. As I understand it, he was racing another car, lost control of the mustang, crossed the median, hit a tree, and died. I don't know who bought the car, but at this point it doesn't matter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

So many teens I know ended up dead. Most drove Jeeps. They rolled over, etc. It was so sad.

So my teens will not drive a car. I didn't drive as a teen.
The bus takes them to high school (stop is close by the house, too). In college I didn't need a car either, but I'm always willing to let them learn how senior year of high school to start practicing with me and take a course, between the ages of 18 and 22. Generally at age 22, graduating when the real driving begins. And the brain is so much more mature and able to handle it better.

Way too many dead kids I knew of growing up...and it's in the papers time and time again.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My kids were each allowed to drive our family car when it was convenient for me. They had to keep there grades up. They had to replace any gas used. When they got there own cars which they paid for they paid for their own gas and all upkeep on cars. Hubby helped them fix things but they paid for parts etc. We put them on our insurance and as long as they kept there grades b's and better we paid it. Except in the summer when they could work longer hours etc. phones had to be shut off while driving. no texting, talking on phones etc. for the first 6 months only 1 other person in the car with them. No carloads of kids being carted around. My kids all got 4 door cars. one has an escort, one had a malibu and one had a taurus. the oldest son had a la baron convertible for the first 2 years. they all bought there own cars with savings bonds they had recieved growing up and money they saved from there jobs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

We were just buying a 3rd car when our daughter started driving, so we kept our reliable Honda for her. We were more concerned with gas mileage, cost, and reliability (we lived in the outskirts of town) than what everyone else was driving or what she wanted.

When she started driving, she had to sign an agreement that she would not do any of the following while driving: drink (not even water), talk on the phone or even check her phone, or change the radio station. She had to pull over at a safe spot to do any of those. We had her show us what she thought were safe spots. And we wanted her to pull over when we called because I might have needed her to stop at the store and pick up something. She always had to call when she went from point A to point B. We wanted her to know that it was a huge responsibility and a privilege.

Because our kids were very committed to their sports, we didn't have to worry about drinking or drugs. (They even altered their diets to be healthy.) But if they were not, we would have had regular drug and alcohol testing. My husband is a retired police officer. He has seen too much.

She was not allowed to have anyone in the car with her for 6 months while she learned to pay attention to everything around her instead of having a conversation. Did that cause inconvenience on our part with a younger sibling? Yes, but we know having kids is an inconvenience.

Then after her initial 6 mos., she was able to have her younger brother in the car for 6 mos. Then when she proved to be a safe driver (our son told us everything), she could take someone else in the car with her.

We were very strict as to whom our kids could even ride with. There are so many unsafe teen drivers out there. Our kids thought it was ridiculous, of course, but there were terrible car accidents happening to teens around us. Today they say that they get it. And all of our parenting had boundaries so this was nothing new.

Because our kids were involved in sports at a high level (year round), they had very little time to have a job. They were good students and very focused athletes so we paid for their gas. Because of their schedules, the main portion of their gas was to get to and from school, practices and games. So I never felt like they were freeloading. If they weren't in sports, they would have had jobs to pay for half of insurance and all gas.

This may sound very extreme to some of you, but we live in a world of huge distraction. My kids were allowed to make mistakes in other areas and learn from them with our help, but driving was very strict. There are too many unsafe drivers all around them and teens have such a slow reaction time.

Be sure to google "death by texting" and show your kids some videos and stories. They need to have that in their head when they are tempted to text.



answers from Houston on

We got our daughter a 2013 Ford Fiesta for her 16th birthday last December. We had planned to buy used but I couldn't find an affordable used car that I felt was safe enough. The Fiesta gets high safety ratings and was budget-friendly. The reason we bought the car for her is that my husband and I both work full-time outside the home so my oldest has responsibility for her two younger siblings after school and in the summer. She drives them to their activities. She pays for the occasional tank of gas and most of her own entertainment expenses. (she had a summer job.) She is very responsible, knows we will take the car away if we find out she has been texting and driving, we don't allow her to be out on her own after dark, etc. We are in Katy and I know what you mean--most of the kids seem to have trucks or sports cars, neither of which I found to be the safest choice for a teen. Good luck in your search!

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