As a parent, helping your teenager buy their first used car is an opportunity to teach them a few life lessons. In doing so, you’ll also want to ensure you’re helping your child get a quality car that’s going to last them for several years. You can both learn more about shopping for used cars by following a few common practices that are designed to sort the good used cars from the lemons.

Look For an Established Dealership

While you might find some good deals from private sellers, buying from an individual is usually a mistake. Most of the time, you’ll just be buying someone else’s problems. There are distinct advantages to buying from a used car dealership, including your ability to get more car for your dollar. This principle goes for any area you are located in geographically. For instance, if you’re looking for a BMW for sale in West Chester, PA, you’ll find more options at a dealership that primarily sells used luxury cars. In addition to finding the make and model your teen wants, you can trust that the vehicle was inspected and repaired before it was placed on the lot. This ensures the vehicle your teen buys is in relatively good condition.

Know the Kelly Blue Book Price

Before you start visiting dealerships, you should talk to your teen about the car or truck they want to buy. They should have a predetermined budget and they should have a body type in mind. It’s even better to have a specific make and model in mind. This will help you research the model’s listing in Kelly’s Blue Book, which lists the basic price for any vehicle by make, model, and year. This will help you ensure your teen won’t be overpaying for their used vehicle. It will also give you the information you need to question a low price. If the dealer is asking a price that’s at the Blue Book price or only slightly higher, there may be bigger problems with the vehicle.

Check the Vehicle History Report

There are several different things you can learn from a vehicle history report, so this is just a good practice to follow when buying any used vehicle. You may already know that the report will alert potential buyers to any serious accidents in which the vehicle was damaged. Additionally, the report will alert you if the vehicle was determined to be “totaled” by the insurance company. If that is the case, a salvage title will be issued. While this doesn’t mean the car or truck hasn’t been adequately restored, it may make it harder to finance or resell the vehicle. The vehicle history report will also alert you to illegal practices, such as turning back the odometer.

Visually Inspect the Vehicle

If you have a basic understanding of auto mechanics, you may feel comfortable inspecting the vehicle yourself. Be sure to check the undercarriage, exhaust, tires, and other components underneath the vehicle. You should raise the hood and do a thorough inspection of the engine, cooling system, and transmission. If you’re unfamiliar with auto mechanics, it’s better to ask a mechanic to look over the vehicle for you. A reputable seller shouldn’t object to the inspection, so you shouldn’t feel timid about suggesting the third-party inspection.

Take the Test Drive

When your teen has done the proper research and they’re ready to commit to a vehicle, they should schedule a test drive. This provides an opportunity to test the various systems in real world situations. As your teen is driving, instruct them to turn on the radio, heater or A/C, and headlights to ensure there aren’t problems with the power system. If the lights and radio fade or the vehicle feels like it may stall, this could indicate a problem. The test drive should also be used to test maneuverability, the braking system, and the cooling system. Your teen should pay attention to any warning indicators that light up on the dashboard as well as watching the engine temperature indicator. They should also listen to the engine with the radio and heater or A/C off to identify unusual sounds. If they experience a smooth ride, they can feel more confident in their used car purchase.

Final Thoughts

Even when you settle on a used car for your teen, you should make sure they have some protection. This should start with ensuring the car is covered by a warranty. You should also talk with an insurance agent you trust to help your teen get the best coverage within your budget. Finally, subscribing to a roadside assistance service will also help you ensure your teen is safe on the road.