Henry Payne knows a thing or two about cars. He’s the auto critic for the Motor City’s Detroit News and an amateur race car driver. He also knows a thing or two about teens. He raised two of them. You might also recognize Henry as the artist behind FamZoo’s iconic tiger. So who better to ask for advice when it comes to cars, teens, and money?
Here’s what Henry has to say when it comes to helping your teens keep their car habits on track financially.
Sure, transportation alternatives are expanding: Uber, Lyft, ride sharing. But there is no rite of passage more sacred than getting your driver’s license. Your teen’s sixteenth birthday brings independence — and a whole new set of financial challenges.
Like reading the owner’s manual in a new car, understanding these challenges will be time well spent — and make for a better driving experience. Some teen finance tips to navigate by:
- Find the car that suits your budget and utilitarian needs. Yeah, that honkin’ Jeep Wrangler with the 20-inch wheels looks cool, but it sucks gas and is as noisy inside as AT&T Park after a grand slam. Look for a pre-owned, compact hatchback sedan (Fiesta, Golf, Prius Hatchback) — great fuel economy with enough seats for your friends. And the luggage space of a small SUV.
- Get to know a good mechanic in your area other than the car dealership. Big, high volume dealerships make their money on expensive, $85-an-hour scheduled service. A good local shop will not only charge less per hour ($60) but also find you cheaper parts. And a kindly mechanic will look out for you, too.
- Know your tires. No regular expense is greater than tires at (if you don’t watch out) over a grand a set. Talk to the guys at TireRack.com (they know their treads) about the most affordable, dependable options for your wheels.
- Use 87 Grade fuel. Sure, increasingly-prevalent turbo engines (even in compacts) will advertize better performance with 91 - but modern injection systems can run on anything, and 87 will save a lotta pennies over time. . .
- . . . which you can put towards buying your own car. Short of a house, no asset in your life says more about you — or costs more. Put a little away every month and you’ll be able to pay cash for that first car of your dreams. That’s real independence. Your own car — with no debt payments.