Preparing Teens for Their Rough-Around-the-Edges “New” Car

The combination of a new teen with an old vehicle just makes sense. Many parents believe that a teenager should start with a car that has a little wear-and-tear. It allows them to appreciate the car more. On a purely practical level, there’s a good chance a teen is going to run the car into the ground anyway. With their novice driving skills and their tendency to brake hard and drive harder, there is little sense in buying a new vehicle.


Many parents agree with this sentiment. Some don’t have much of a choice even if they disagree. Regardless of the purpose of getting a teen behind a car that needs a little TLC, the fact remains that it creates a bit of a paradox.

Teens that drive old cars tend to deal with breakdowns, frustrations, and problems. Old cars have old problems. Parents should accompany the purchase of an older vehicle with a little on-site training. How can teens handle dilemmas and even likely breakdowns while driving out and about?

It’s a significant part of character-building. But, teens shouldn’t be left to just wing it. Teens can receive a crash course in composure. This includes the basic steps to take if the vehicle breaks down on the highway.

First Steps

First, teens should get the vehicle off the road. Stay to the barriers on the side of the road. Do not exit the vehicle out to the side where cares are actively driving. It’s too vulnerable a place to be. Teach a teen the basic engine parts so they at least have an idea of what they are looking at. This includes the oil slot, the transmission, and potential common leak areas.

If the car does have a known but minor issue, make a teen aware of it. What should they look for? Do they have basic parts to handle it? The link at covers more.

The top thing to do should not necessarily be to call a parent. This further builds that connection of non-self reliance. Encourage a teen to call a tow company directly if they need roadside assistance. Encourage them to carry AAA and to have the number stored in their phone. This could be a nice way to build a little independence and turn a potentially bad thing into a helpful and practical experience of real-life skill-making.