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Your kid is off to university. Time for a car?

You live in the suburbs and are asking yourself if it might be a good idea to get your kid a car so they can come home occasionally. Here are a few things to consider before making a decision:

Is your kid responsible?

Most young adults dream of having their own car so they can drive their friends around and go to the mall or the movies whenever they want. When it comes to your own child, you need to make sure they are aware of the responsibilities that come with having a car. It’s one thing to borrow mom’s car for the night, but owning your own vehicle is a totally different story!

Think about whether they’re ready to take this on, particularly at this stage in their life. Like it or not, they will likely be offered drugs and alcohol while away at school, so remind them of the zero-tolerance rule. If this is not enough to feel reassured, you can even take it a step further and have them sign a contract, outlining what is expected of them in black and white. They may be all grown up now, but they’re still your kid!

How far away is the campus?

Some students choose universities close to home, while others might pick one on the other side of the province. During their 1st year, your child is likely going to want to come home on weekends to do their laundry, see their friends and eat home-cooked meals. If this sounds like your kid, it might be worth getting them a car. This way, they’ll have their own wheels and won’t be calling you for a ride. If their campus is far from home and gas prices are a budget factor, consider an fuel-efficient vehicle.

Is it possible to find a cheap car?

Most young drivers dream of having a sleek, luxury car with a powerful engine. But when mom and dad are paying, they’ll get whatever the family budget can afford. Consider buying a used vehicle or ask your friends and coworkers if they know someone who is selling their car. If you do go with a used vehicle, take the time to look it over thoroughly, inside and out. Take it for a test drive and have it inspected by a qualified mechanic.

Leasing a vehicle is another generally affordable option, though it may include mileage restrictions. Before going for leasing, you need to determine what “lifespan” you have in mind for the car. Are you only looking to provide your child with a car during their university years? Or do you hope to leave them with something they can continue to use when they start working fulltime? If it’s the latter, a lease may not be the way to go.

Who’s going to cover maintenance fees?

This is definitely something you want to nail down in advance! Will your child be responsible for covering maintenance fees for the vehicle? Most young adults are slowly learning to manage their finances and owning a car is a great opportunity to teach them about financial responsibility. You know your kid—do they have good spending habits or are they often buying things they really don’t need? If it’s option B, they may have a hard time finding the cash to cover unexpected repairs (particularly for used vehicles). If this happens, will you be willing to hand over your credit card?

Before making any decisions, sit down with your son or daughter and talk to them about how much it costs to own a car. Ask them what they think. Maybe you could agree on splitting the costs 50/50. Or maybe it will be the kick in the pants they need to find a part-time job!

Do they know anything about car insurance?

Car insurance is a foreign concept to some young adults. However, if your child is about to become a car owner, they need to know the basics of auto insurance. Bonus: they will likely be eligible for a young drivers discount.

Your kid is off to university. Time for a car?

Many factors must be taken into consideration before buying a car to your kid who’s going off to college.

Your kid just finished CEGEP and will soon head off to university. Admit it—you’re sad. Parents have a natural need to protect their offspring and it can be hard when kids leave the nest.

Conditions, exclusions and limitations may apply. The terms and conditions of the coverages described are set out in the insurance policy, which always prevails.

The information provided is meant to be illustrative only, and Desjardins Insurance assumes no liability with regards to how it is used. Use caution and consult an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.