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Student Drivers 101: Should your Teenager Have a Car for University?

As parents, we feel protective of our offspring and worry about them leaving the nest. One concern is if your teenager should have a vehicle for university, to commute back and forth. Here are some questions to consider beforehand:

Are they responsible enough?

Most teenagers dream of owning their own car. To be the wheels in their friend group, and provide the transportation to the mall or the movies. However, it’s important your teen knows how much responsibility owing a vehicle entails. It is one thing to borrow the family car, but to have your own is another.  Make sure your teenager is mature enough to handle owning a car, especially when going off to university where there will be drinking. Remind your teen that, when they are behind the wheel, under no circumstances, can they drink and drive, or be under the influence of any drugs. If you are still concerned, drawing up a contract and setting ground rules is an option. After all, they are still your child.

How far of a commute?

Some university students stick close to home while others travel far away. Many first years enjoy being able to come back home on the weekends and do laundry, see their friends and eat home-cooked meals. If you think your son or daughter would like to do this, and you don’t mind picking them up, buying a car for them might be a wise idea. Additionally, if it will help cut commute time in half and make a big difference, it would be a worthwhile investment. If mileage is a concern, there are plenty of fuel-efficient vehicles to consider.

Can you get a deal on those wheels?

Teenagers usually want a “cool-looking” ride. Something sleek and speedy. While buying them an expensive sports car would be nice, most parents opt-out for a vehicle within their budget. Buying a used vehicle is an option as well as asking family members, friends and neighbours if they know anyone who is selling a vehicle. If you do end up going for the used car route, make sure the vehicle is safe; have it looked at by a certified mechanic, look carefully at the car’s exterior and interior and ask if you can take a test drive with it. For information about used cars read our used car buying guide.

There are also other options such as leasing a vehicle. While leasing is generally a better financial option, it can come with mileage restrictions. Another thing to consider is how long you see your teenager having this car, just for their undergraduate education or beyond? If you choose leasing it’s best to know exactly what you’re getting into.

Who will be in charge of car maintenance?

This is an important question to consider. Will your teenager be paying for maintenance and upkeeps out of their own pocket? The majority of teenagers are still learning about managing finances, and owning a car could help teach them. However, if they are overspending money on unnecessary items, it might be tough for them to pay for unexpected repairs; especially if it’s a used vehicle. Either way, sit down with your teen and give them an estimated budget for the total ownership of the car and hear what they think. Maybe the cost can be split 50/50, or maybe your teenager might have to get a part-time job to cover costs.

Do they know how car insurance works?

Some teenagers are still grasping the concept of car insurance. If they are going to be a car owner, it’s crucial your son or daughter understands how insurance works. Since they are a student, they might be able to get a student discount rate. With Desjardins Insurance, your student will be able to save up to 10% on car insurance. For more information on student rates visit the Desjardins website or contact one of our agents today.

Student Drivers 101: Should your Teenager Have a Car for University?

Your teenager has successfully graduated high school and will be starting university in the fall. Cue all the emotions!