Teens begin dreaming about having their own car almost as soon as they become a teenager. And while your child may know how to drive after you taught them or they learned in driver’s education classes, you may be wondering if your teenager is responsible enough for a car. Here are some guidelines you may want to think about before deciding to let them have their own car.

Your teen probably thinks they need their own car, but they can still ride the bus to school like all the other students. They may be able to get rides from their friends who have cars or accept a ride from you when they need to go somewhere. The fact is, unless they have a totally different schedule that requires them to be places while the family car isn’t available, they don’t need their own car.

If you’ve ridden in the car with them while they drive, you’ll know whether they’re good drivers or not. Whether or not you think they’re a safe driver may be more important than whether or not they’re responsible. They may be very responsible but if they drive recklessly you obviously won’t want to put them behind the wheel of their own vehicle.

How responsible are they in other areas of their life? Can you trust them to do the things that are required of them and do so in a reasonable amount of time? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do they finish all schoolwork before doing things they want to do? Knowing that there are certain things they have to do before doing what they want, shows they are able to manage their time and that they know how to use that time wisely.
  • How do they handle money when you give it to them? Do they spend everything right away on perceived ‘needs’ or do they spend it on what it was intended to be used for?
  • Is your teen liable to keep you informed of what they’re doing, where they’re going, and who they are with, or do you often wonder where they are?
  • Can you depend on them to help keep the house clean including their own room? Or does their room look like a disaster area?
  • Do they have an after-school job? If so, do they arrive on time for their shift or are they constantly late?
  • Are they willing to learn about the care and maintenance of cars? Knowing at least the basics will ensure they can fill their own gas tank, check the oil, washer fluid, and other fluids in the car. They also need to learn how to change a tire. If they’re not willing to learn the basics of car maintenance, maybe they’re not responsible enough for a car.

Your teen needs to understand how serious having a vehicle is. If you were to get them a car, you would not continue to pay all expenses. Talk about different costs associated with driving a car.

It’s expensive to have a teenager on your auto insurance policy. Make sure they know if they get a traffic ticket your insurance will likely increase. Let your teen know they would be responsible for paying the entire ticket and any difference in your insurance policy due to the ticket.

Teens don’t have to have their own car but they may want one. When trying to determine if your teen is responsible enough for a car, consider these points. Perhaps they’ll help you make that decision.