Ask Audra: Should You Buy a Car for Your Teenager?

buy car for teenagerShould you buy a car for your teenager? Tough question. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it depends.

First and foremost to any driver is that you know how to open the hood!

You’ve got three options. Let’s take a look at each one.

Option A: Buy a car for your child and cover all of the cost.

If reliability is your primary concern, option A might be your best bet. This puts you in control. Teenagers put style before safety. If left to their own devices, they will probably buy the “cool” car. If it’s your money on the line, you have the power to make the unpopular (but smart) decision.

The downside? It’s easy to mistreat something you didn’t pay for. Teenagers aren’t known for being grateful. They might even be mad, because they didn’t get the car they wanted. That’s 100% illogical (they got a free car!), but it’s often the case. Also, this doesn’t teach your child how to manage money. Reality will catch up with them sooner or later.

Option B: Share the family car with your child and split the cost.

If cost is your primary concern, option B might be your best bet. This is a gentle transition into owning a vehicle. Make sure your teen understands what costs they are responsible for. Ask them to pay for gas and oil changes at minimum. You can cover tire changes and other auto expenses until they save a decent amount of money.

The downside? The full cost of vehicle ownership can still come as a shock. Every time you get a repair, take your teen to the mechanic so they can see exactly how much you’re paying to maintain the vehicle. Even better, teach them about the importance of having a “car jar” to  fund emergency and maintenance services. If you don’t teach them now, they will come begging for money later.

Option C: Let your child buy their own car and cover none of the cost.

If personal growth is your primary concern, option C might be your best bet. This is a brutal introduction to the real world. That said, your teenager might end up better off for it. They will get used to the responsibility that comes with owning a vehicle at a young age. And you better believe they will take very good care of that car!

The downside? Like I said, this is brutal. Most teenagers don’t have enough money to buy a good car. They would probably have to work a summer job. That could steal time and attention from studying. And they might get suckered into buying a car that isn’t safe or reliable if they are not taught how to care for their investment. If you choose to go this route, don’t let them go shopping without you.

Talk to me.

Do you plan to buy a car for your teenager? If so, are you going to cover the repair and maintenance costs? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments. Click here to share this blog on Facebook to invite your friends to the conversation.

Mechanically Yours,


read More blogs about teen driving


Aftermarket Warranty… Worth It or Not?

hang tagWe’ve all heard the term “after-market,” but what does that mean? Anything that didn’t come with the original product is considered after market. If you buy a brand new car and then later purchase really cool rims, those are “after-market” rims. Warranties are available after-market too, and may be a wise choice if you are buying a used car.

An after-market warranty protects your car from things that an original manufacturer warranty may not. They are similar to extended warranties offered by dealers and essentially extend your coverage. But, not all warranties are created equal. Most dealers will try to get you to buy their extended warranty at the time you purchase your car. But you might find a better deal in an after-market warranty from another company. Ask your dealer how long you have to purchase their extended warranty and then shop around.

Find out what the dealer warranty will cover, and then compare apples to apples and see if you can find a better deal. Here are the pros and cons of purchasing an after-market warranty:


  • Might be cheaperEmpower
  • Could cover more than the extended warranty offered by dealer
  • You won’t have to deal with car salespeople


  • Might have more restrictions
  • May not be transferable
  • Tend to be very complicated and may not be worth the trouble

What do you think? Have you had a better experience with a dealer extended warranty or after-market warranty? Send us your comments and empower another woman to make an informed decision!

What Is a Vehicle Warranty?

A vehicle warranty is an insurance policy for your car parts. It protects you and your wallet from design and manufacturing faults, but doesn’t usually cover regular wear and tear and replacement of parts needed during regular service, such as oil, filters, belts, tires, wipers and spark plugs.

Many new cars come with a “bumper-to-bumper” warranty that lasts for a certain period of time or until a certain amount of mileage is reached. This type of warranty covers almost everything between the vehicle’s front and back bumpers. An extended warranty, on the other hand, is coverage you purchase in addition to the “bumper-to-bumper” coverage. If you opt for this type of warranty, make sure the extended warranty option covers the same things the original “bumper-to-bumper” warranty covers.

A vehicle warranty can be a great investment, can save you thousands in repairs and can protect you from defective parts and manufacturer errors. If you are purchasing a used car, check to see if the manufacturer warranty is still in effect and if you can take over the remaining period of that warranty. If not, consider purchasing an after-market warranty, which we will discuss in our next post.

Free Look Your New-to-You Car

Getting a new vehicle is soooo exciting. But listen up ladies, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you are buying a used vehicle, you should ALWAYS get it checked out by a trusted mechanic. It doesn’t matter if you buy it from a buy-here pay-here or a reputable franchise certified pre-owned department. Even getting the vehicle history report isn’t always going to list everything that is going on under the hood the moment you buy the vehicle.

Any dealer worth their salt will encourage you to get a second opinion on the vehicle. The best way to do this is to get a friend/mechanic to come to the lot and take a look at the vehicle. If that’s not possible, ask the dealer if you can test drive it to your WAK mechanic’s shop. Don’t worry about offending the dealer – you’re the one paying for it and driving it. The only exception to this Free Look rule is if your daughter, mother, bff, hubby or someone else you can bring along is a trained mechanic and can give the car a once over on the lot before you buy.

Are You Expecting? (Car Buying Guide for New Moms)

Are you expecting a new baby? Good for you! Picking out a new car, or even new to you, can be exciting and scary. The best way to determine what you want is to consider the following things:

  • Budget – how much can you realistically afford without overextending yourself for price, maintenance and upkeep
  • Cash/Finance – will you be paying cash or financing this baby?
  • Driving Habits – will you be using this for short trips, highway miles or global travel?
  • Past Experience – remember what you did and din’t like about your previous vehicles and look for the features that are important to you
  • Get a Looker – you will be riding it, looking at it and showing it off… so you want to make sure you’re happy with how it looks

New Car? Used Car? Red Car? Blue Car!

Now that you’ve decided another car, new-to-you, is in your future, the next thing to decide is whether you’ll be purchasing New or Used.  Obviously, a new car does not come with the kind of history that used cars do, but you must be careful about scheduled maintenance and mileage to stay within your warranty.  Ebay and out-of-state dealerships are shipping nationally, so that broadens a lot of your used car choices.  See what locals say about their shop, and read reviews if you decide to purchase online.

 new-or-used-not-always-an-easy-choice1Whatever decision you make, remember that once you take ownership of those keys, you are taking ownership of that ride!  It’s true that it’s good to know a car’s history, but this is personal.  Your butt is going to be planted in that seat, logging lots of driving time.  You’ll want to know for sure what kind of ride you can expect before you buy it.  Do your research, and have it checked out by a trusted mechanic.

 Still Can’t Decide?

There is a mathematical formula at to calculate your estimated yearly auto expenses will be.

Used car buying tips:

Before searching for used cars, consider how long the owner has had the car. The most important thing about buying a used car is that its important to know everything about the history of the car, including the number of previous owners, whether the car was ever involved in an accident, any previous mechanical problems, and the maintenance history of the car. Someone with mechanical knowledge should check out the car, if possible.  Check that the motor, transmission and other major parts of the used car are in fine working condition. You should also inquire about oil changes, the age of the battery, tune-ups and when the tires were last replaced.

There is a wide range of models, brands and colors available for the purchaser to buy a used car. You can often find great bargains by researching used cars for sale online, and then driving to see the car in person. To begin the search, check in the local car classifieds or with pre-owned car classified websites that offer great deals of used cars for sale. Surf car classifieds and use online resources to narrow the search for used cars being offered by individual sellers. There are many opportunities to compare cars on the Internet and car buyers are using these options to the fullest.

Buying a New Car: Have a plan.

Do the research.  It’s easy.  Know exactly what vehicle you want and which options.  Price it on Edmonds or KBB Search!  Add 3% to invoice and that should be a fair deal for any dealer. Unless its the hot car of the moment, then it will be more.  If you can find out how many cars are in supply, this will help your price.  If there are 180 days’ supply of a certain car, the will deal no problem.  But a new model, just hitting the floor will have much less wiggle room.

Try and buy something that has been out for a year.  Look at the problems people have had with them.  Corvettes had ignition lock problems in the late 90’s.  Let someone else find and work out the bugs for you.

Call the bank, or Credit Union, meet with a lender, personally.  They will be on your side and discuss payments and such and interest rates without pressure.  They can track your credit score and you can ask questions galore.  Maybe you thought you wanted the $35,000 Wrangler, now the $25,000 dollar Mazda looks better?  Don’t forget Tag and Taxes!

Ask friends what dealer they use if they have the car you want.  Call that dealer and ask for the guy that has been there the longest and make an appointment to see him, unless you have a referral to another salesman.  It is never wise to show up onto the lot and get “Pot Luck Pete, the guy who started 2 weeks ago and has one car sold, maybe.

The old guy will not be out on the lot, seeking customers.  He can make his own deals without the Manager.  This is the guy to find.  By making an appointment, you immediately bypass everyone that runs up to a car when they arrive at the Dealer.  Just say you are there to meet so and so.  They will leave you alone, or good sales people will take you right to his office.  If he has what you want, go look at it.  Look at the sticker.  Look for add-on options.  You do not want to pay for dealer added options, as it is an overpriced profit for them.  If there is list of stuff, your job is harder, and you might have to order the car.  They will make more cars.  This isn’t the only one!Car-Salesman

There should be no extra sticker price, at all, really.  The most you may want to negotiate over is floor mats.  Look the car over checking specifically for paint and dent issues.  Test drive and listen with the radio off.  Don’t talk, and let the salesman do his job.  Towards the end of drive, ask him how close to invoice he can get.  This is neutral territory (not his office) and he will tell you what he thinks.

Do the deal and get the floor mats thrown in for free.  Tell him you really don’t want the Finance & Insurance guy to sell you anything and you have financing, etc.  There may be no way out, but try.

Keep in mind, if you are still not sure at this point, stop and go to lunch or dinner or come back the next day.  He sells 30 cars a month, you buy one every 6 years!   This is a big step.  Take it easy on yourself.

If you have to go to Finance and Insurance, HOLD ON TO YOUR WALLET!  Practice saying no, because you will say it more times than your name.  If there wasn’t a list on the car with dealer added-on options, this is where they will tell you what you really should have, too.  Paint sealant: No.  Fabric Protect: No.  Paintless Dent repair- only 29 dollars a month more: No.  Gap Insurance: No. Credit Life: No.  If you have 4% rate from the Credit Union, the F&I guy may get you a better rate, listen up.  He will make 1% on whatever rate he gives you.  So if he can do 3%, he is getting the dealer at least 1% of that loan money.  You will also become fodder for their loan system and offers will come at you for years to come as they sell your info, too.

One last thing to note:

WARRANTY:  All of this is priced out in plans from factory to dealer.  This means that the price is negotiable, just like the price of the car.  And always make sure it is the factory extended plan, not a third party.  Warranty prices can be found online. Tell them no, even if you want it.  Sometimes they offer a free loaner car if you buy their warranty, try for that.

All new cars sold have a period where buying the extended warranty can be done within a reasonable time – 30 days, at least, with no extra charge, sometimes a year.  If you are going to keep the car 10 years, a warranty might be a good thing, but why pay $3,000 dollars for a plan that may be purchased later for $1,800?

When you get the car home, search forums for your vehicle.  Look at topics for warranties and what people paid for them.  A GM dealer in the Midwest may sell the exact same warranty to someone in NJ for 40% less.  Also, other dealers that sell the same car might make a better deal.  This can be done on the telephone and they will need a VIN.  Lastly, call your F&I guy and see if he will meet your price.

If you do their financing, read over the contract!  A friend of mine had the F&I guy print out same contract 3 different times with 3 different interest rates!

Best tip:  If you do not like what is going on, stop.  Leave if you must.  Don’t get angry.  They will not want you to go and there are always other dealers.  

Don’t be intimidated!  Knowledge is Power!

Are You Ready for Another Car?

Big GiftAre you thinking that it may be time to get another car? I play a similar game with my kids all the time, Stay or Go?  If it’s costing more than its worth, some things are just meant to be let go.  Unlike my daughter Olivia’s baby blanket, a stinky old relic, it’s a blanket she has had since birth.  It has a lot of emotional value, and was hard to part with, even though all her special time with it was spent sleeping.  When she took with us on vacation and left it on the cruise ship, I feel horrible about that when they couldn’t find it.

Now, when it comes to discussing your car, it can be a different story.  How many hours awake do you spend in your car?  That’s a serious relationship the two of you have.  How do you know when its time to let it go?

That’s sometimes a very personal decision to have to make.  And it’s a difficult question that the Women Auto Know pledged auto shops can help customers with every day.  I have been helping car owners with that decision for 30 years and we’ve identified 5 questions we think you should consider when you’re confronted with this decision.

If you are faced with a major repair such as an engine or transmission replacement, or a deductible ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does my vehicle still perform the task I bought it to do (family car, work truck, etc)?

1a. If my driving needs have changed, is it time for a different vehicle? For example…if I drive a sports car and I just had twins, a mini-van would be more practical.


2. Do I feel safe and secure while driving it; or do I constantly worry it might break down?

3. Has it been routinely maintained; or have I allowed other needed repairs to build up?

4. Was I already preparing to buy another car; or it’s time… I’ve earned it!

Check in next week when we discuss whether to buy New or Used.  We’ll discus what you should think about and expect when deciding to purchase New or Used cars.  Write us below and tell us what factors you took into account when deciding to buy new or used.