related linksRead more advice-related articles
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
MORE ON MSN
MSN AUTOS VIDEO
I was going to say "any old beater" so they can learn how to fix them, but cars now days are so complicated with all the electronics, that it's almost impossible to be a "shade tree" mechanic any more.
My first car was a 64' Dodge Dart. It needed lots and lots of work just to keep it running. Me and my buddies spent lots of time working on our old beaters. At any given time half of our cars weren't running, and that meant we were under the hood instead of out running around getting into mischief.
Ah the good old days when you could pop a hood, identify everything, actually get to it, and with a minimum amount of hand tools and enough elbow grease, fix things.
This is an insane list! What ever happened to teens driving "clunkers"? Most of these cars are likely better than their parent's cars!
I'm in the 1% and I'm not going to get a teen the Volvo, the Ford Fusion, the Subaru, or the Lexus mentioned on this list!! How many teens can afford to buy one of these cars on their own? As a parent, I will put my own teen is a safe clunker!
If you really want the BEST used cars for teens, then put them exclusively in a late model used $50,000-plus survivable crash-rated Mercedes or Volvo four door sedan, (the ONLY cars that actually can survive a highway crash). But, that is not going to happen in most households in America.
Who the heck buys a first time driver a $10k + car? There is one constant with teens, they WILL have an accident, and they WILL get the car dinged up. So unless you can afford $400+ per month insurance you can kiss that $12,000 car goodbye. The best teen cars are the cheapest ones with the least number of issues. Old Hondas are great if you aren't worried about driving in snow or them getting hit by an SUV or truck, but they are also found for $4k+ with 250k miles just because they are fairly reliable and cheap to drive. Most old American models require transmission changes after 100k miles, so even a $1500-2500 American car will likely cost you $4k anyway. Your best bet is to find an old Honda, Kia, Hundai, Toyota, or maybe even compact Ford or Chevy that has a blown timing belt, which you can usually buy for about $500, then spend $1500-2k having the top end of the motor rebuilt. Make sure it is a stick because usually all they need is a clutch, not an entire transmission. And you will end up with a car with decent gas mileage that will start every day and run for another 100k miles with minimal money spent on maintenance.
Save the $10k+ cars for college after they have experience driving (and spending their hard earned money on fixing dents) and need a car that can be on the highway safely for more than 15 miles at a time.
The world is not the same place where I grew up, a world where you could hitch a ride if your car broke down. With consolidated school systems, teens travel further and further from home. You do not want your teen broken down on ANY road in America, esp. after dark. Too many crazies out there. The whole point of teens having cars is convenience for the parent so that a teen can drive to the numerous school, church, community, social activities in their lives or to jobs which, YES, will keep them out after dark. So often you read of missing teens whose old clunker broke down and was found on the side of the road, body found later. Give your teen the most reliable car you can afford for safety's sake. You can teach them lessons of pride and responsibility in ownership by requiring them to pay for maintenance, etc.
But don't send your child out in an old death trap.