Choosing the Best Used Car for a New Driver

Choosing the Best Used Car for a New Driver

So your teenager has a shiny new driver’s license and needs a car. Your finances only allow for buying a used vehicle. How do you choose the best one?

Unfortunately, teens are more likely than older drivers to overestimate their own abilities and underestimate road dangers. As a result, parents will naturally want to protect them as much as possible. That instinct makes safety a primary consideration when selecting your teen’s first car. Here are the vital issues to keep in mind.

Five essential safety considerations

Evaluating safety features becomes even more critical when selecting a used car, which may not have the newest technology. At a minimum, you’ll want the car to have:

Electronic stability control (ESC)

This equipment became standard on passenger vehicles in 2012, so you shouldn’t have difficulty finding it on a used car. The extra stability it imparts without driver intervention goes a long way toward preventing crashes. A stable used car will also be reasonably substantial. Cars earning top marks weigh in at above 2,750 pounds.

High reliability

The last thing you need is for your teen’s used car to break down on the way to school or in the middle of a crowded highway. You can find reliability ratings compiled from member surveys in Consumer Reports.

Effective emergency handling

If your teen encounters an unexpected hazard, you don’t want it to end in tragedy. Superior handling enhances the ability to avoid or minimize accidents—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) scores cars for emergency handling.

Short dry-braking distances

You’ll want to choose a car that comes to a stop from 60 miles per hour in under 145 feet. Again, this information is generated by the NHTSA.


If your teen does get into an accident, you want a car that is best equipped to let them walk away. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) produces ratings for four aspects of a vehicle:

  • Front.
  • Side.
  • Roof.
  • Head restraints.

For a used car that best shields your teen, you’ll want ratings of at least four stars.

Insurance claim rates

Insuring teen drivers is expensive. The higher the rate of insurance claims for a car, the more costly the premiums. The Highway Data Loss Institute puts out data on insurance losses. If possible, you’ll want to choose a car at the lower end.


These days, sticker shock can send a jolt down your spine. The current car shortage makes good deals even harder to find. While safety will be your most profound concern, you or your teen must be able to afford it. Small or midsize cars or small SUVs with appropriate ratings can give you the most bang for your buck.

Finding help

While choosing the best used car for an inexperienced driver is daunting, an expert can steer you in the right direction. Even in these times, Auto Market of Florida maintains an impressive inventory of used cars. The Auto Market professionals can help you find the right car for your new driver and financing to fit your budget. Contact us today to put your teen in an affordable car you can trust.