Deals on wheels: Should you buy your child a car?

By Lisa Aberle

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, May 30 2014 11:45 a.m. MDT

  • Pros — The child has a longer time to save up money for other expenses. It’s a good “bridge” between learning to care for a car, pay for gas, and buying his or her own car. It also is a privilege that can easily be removed. (My husband argues that driving privileges can be removed, no matter who owns the car. He is right, of course.)
  • Cons — The child may not fully grasp the whole cost of car ownership if they only pay for the gas.
3. If the kid wants a car, the kid can buy a car. And pay for everything.
  • Pros — The child would fully grasp the whole cost of car ownership. I believe this scenario is the one in which the child would take the best care of the car.
  • Cons — This would require having a cushion in case of unexpected repairs, and careful budgeting to make sure the child can afford all the expenses associated with car ownership. (WOW! This sounds suspiciously like real life!) It does not allow them as much time to save for other expenses.
(As I have mentioned before, we live in a rural area. If you can live without your teenager using a car, that’s great! It would be doable in our case, but not convenient.)

As I look over this list of pros and cons, I am leaning toward something that’s between the second and third options. I would be fine with allowing the child to use our car, but it probably would be more helpful if they had to pay for the gas and a percentage of repairs and insurance. I know I was surprised at how much oil changes, new tires, and wear and tear repairs added up to once I bought my own car.

While we have at least six years to make this decision — and I don’t want to speed this up at all — I would like to start prepping our kids with our expectations so they aren’t surprised when I tell them their birthday present is parked by the garage.

Would you buy your child a car? If so, would you expect the child to pay for any expenses?

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