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Picking a teenager's car -- The Monday Consult

Is your teen going to be (gulp) driving this summer, and either getting new wheels or inheriting yours? AAA Mid-Atlantic has some tips for choosing the right car that I thought would be a good Monday Consult.

Here are the highlights, condensed from the AAA's press release:

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--Safety features are especially important, considering that teen drivers are more than twice as likely to be involved in a crash as adults. You'll at least want antilock braking systems, daytime running lights, electronic stability control, airbags and adjustable/lockable head restraints, AAA says. (ConsumerReports.org has a list of specific recommendations for teen cars.)

--Your budget should factor in insurance on your teen, plus the rising cost of gas. A previously-owned model with good safety features might be the best option. And don't forget the cost of maintenance.

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--Check reliability factors, especially on a used car, before you buy. See that the car has a warranty or purchase an extended warranty. Check its maintenance and crash histories. Get the car inspected before you buy, and look for cars without too many miles on them....

The AAA has more details in a pamphlet called So Your Teen Wants a Car? A Parent's Guide to Choosing a Vehicle, available at AAA clubs.

Now, you say you want to know more about how to keep your teen safe, get him licensed, and to talk to your teen about driving rules? It's all in this section of the AAA web site. And you might want to check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which has crash-worthiness ratings.

Do those of you who've been through this have tips and stories to share?


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