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Purchasing a Car for Your Teen6/26/2019

Whether they’re heading off to college or have just received their driver’s license, buying your teen or young adult their first vehicle can be exciting, yet overwhelming. While top priorities are likely safety and reliability when searching for a vehicle, you’ll also need to consider the financial expenses and responsibilities that come with owning one. Below are a few tips on how to make purchasing your teen’s first vehicle an easier, more enjoyable experience.


Get pre-approved with SLFCU and know how much you can spend before heading to the dealership. Include your teen in the process so they understand the financial implications of purchasing a vehicle, and make sure to budget for the additional expenses that come along with owning a car, truck, or SUV, such as insurance, registration costs, emissions inspections, regular maintenance, and gas. Knowing what you can afford ahead of time will give you both greater confidence and peace of mind. Pre-approvals are valid for 45 days and can be used for dealership purchases as well as private party purchases.


Consider how much and what kind of driving your teen will do and research options beforehand. If their commute to school or work is on the longer side, then a car with good gas mileage may be a requirement. Or perhaps they’re heading off to college in a snowy city and need a vehicle that’s equipped to drive on icy roads. These factors are important to consider when you first begin to narrow down the list of possible vehicles you’d like to purchase so you’re not overwhelmed by all of the options.


Decide what expenses each of you will cover and make sure you set boundaries early on. Will your teen be expected to pay for their own gas? Who will be responsible if there are sudden maintenance costs? Figuring out each of your responsibilities and setting your expectations ahead of time will help prevent any unpleasant surprises later down the road and allow both you and your teen to plan and budget for likely expenses.

SLFCU offers a variety of resources to help you navigate the car buying process, including calculators, advice, and information on financing options. For more information or to apply for pre-approval, visit, call 505.293.0500 or 800.947.5328, or stop by any branch.

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