As your child approaches 17, you can almost guarantee that they will be looking to get out on the road and get their first car. Having a car gives them the chance to enjoy a bit of independence and some responsibility, but it can be a big concern for you, as well as a big expense. There’s a lot to consider before you hand your teen the keys to their first car, so it’s worth doing some research first.

Should you buy your teen a car? Be sure to consider the following first.

Can you afford it?

While owning a car is a dream for many teenagers, it can put a strain on families that can’t afford it. Many parents feel pressure to buy their teenager a car, but not all financial situations allow for it. You should only buy a car for your teen if it can fit within your budget. There are plenty of tips for buying second-hand cars that can help you find a car within your means, and buying a used car will be much more practical for a first-time driver.

If your teen wants to drive something that’s more expensive than what you can afford, why not ask them to chip in towards the cost? If they want any extras, such as a different sound system, then that’s another cost they can cover themselves. If they want to personalise their car, you can look here for a private number plate and see if there’s an affordable one available. Even the most affordable car can become expensive quickly with all the extras, so make sure you consider the total cost carefully.

Are they responsible enough?

While 17-year olds are approaching adulthood, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re very responsible. Teens vary in their maturity, and you should know your teen well enough to decide if they’re ready to handle the responsibility of a car. If your teen has a job, does well at school, helps out around the house and so on, they’re probably proving to be responsible enough to be able to drive.

You can always lay down some ground rules, such as when and where they can drive, to help them think a bit more responsibly when they get behind the wheel.

How will they learn to drive?

Before your teen will be allowed on the open road, they need to learn to drive. Most 17-year olds will want to pass their tests as soon as possible, and they’re going to need some practice to do that. However, driving lessons cost a lot more than they did back in your day, and you could now easily be looking at £20-30 a lesson depending on where you live. You could put the responsibility for the cost of lessons on them, in exchange for buying them a car at the end – which is an excellent reason for them to pick up a part-time job if they don’t have one already.

You do have the option of teaching them yourself too. The driving test has changed in recent years, so you’ll need to make yourself aware of these changes if you’re going to help your child pass. A mixture of tuition from you and some lessons could help them pass their test quickly ready for them to get out on the road.

How much will insurance cost?

Insurance can be another added expense to the cost of buying a car for your teenager. Insuring young, first-time drivers is one of the most expensive types of car insurance, and can often cost more than the car itself. There are different ways to bring down the cost of insurance for young drivers that can help make it more affordable. Again, the cost of insurance is something you’ll need to factor in when deciding if you can afford to buy a car for your teen.

Who will maintain the car?

As well as the cost of the car itself, there are also ongoing costs that come with owning a car. Paying for fuel, road tax and maintenance is an ongoing cost, but should you have to pay it? If you’re willing to front the cost of buying the car itself, then perhaps it should be up to your teen to maintain it. Doing this will hopefully teach them some responsibility and make them handle their car with more care.

Help your teen work out the cost of running a car as a young driver and teach them how to budget for it. Once they realise the average cost of fuel, they’ll probably think twice about how often they drive!

Is sharing your car an option?

If buying your child their own car isn’t an option, then you might want to think about letting them share yours. This can be a great idea in terms of insurance. It will bring the cost down for your teen and could bring your own insurance down too.

But sharing a car can soon come with some stress. Who gets to use the car and when? What if you both need it at the same time? As the parent, you should be able to decide when your teen gets to use their car, and your need should always trump theirs. There are likely to be a few arguments along the way, but it’s important that you stand your ground. You can look at stress-free ways to share the family car to help you all use it in a harmonious way.

Giving your teenager their first taste of freedom by getting them a car can be a fantastic gift. It can also be practical for you if you’re usually the one to ferry them back and forth constantly. Each teen is different and if your teen is mature and responsible enough, and your finances are in a good place, then go ahead and hand over those keys. Ultimately, you’ll know if it’s the right decision for your teen and if you lay down some rules with this new responsibility, you can feel more confident in letting your teen out on the road.