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What to look for when buying your teen's first car

If you're looking for a car for your teen so that they're not constantly borrowing yours or for them to take to college, it's understandable that you're conscientious about price. However, you don't want to skimp too much. Older models are less expensive, but they lack many important safety features that are now standard in many cars.

Some important safety features that can protect your young driver include:

  • Back-up camera and sensors
  • Anti-lock brakes
  • Airbags
  • Crumple zones
  • Electronic stability control
  • Tire pressure monitoring
  • Laminated windshields

It's important to look at safety ratings given by groups such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It's also crucial to look at reliability ratings. These are based on how often owners of particular vehicles report having them repaired.

Reliability is an important component of safety. If a car doesn't work properly or breaks down completely, everyone in it is at risk -- either of being in a crash or being stuck on the side of the road where they can get struck by another vehicle or become the victims of other types of crime.

Engine power is another factor to consider. Obviously, you want a good engine. However, insurance companies report that young drivers behind the wheel of vehicles with very powerful engines are more likely to be involved in crashes. Many inexperienced drivers aren't able to handle them. Further, powerful, high-performing engines increase the temptation to drive at higher speeds and engage in other risky driving behavior.

By instilling good driving habits in your teen and ensuring that they're driving a safe car, you help reduce the chances of a crash. You also help minimize the risk of serious injury if your teen is involved in a crash. If your child is the victim of a crash caused by a careless or reckless driver, make sure that you get the compensation needed for medical care, vehicle repair and more.

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