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  1. #1
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    OT: getting a car for 18 year old...ideas?

    I know this is WAY off topic, but I figured the folks in this forum may have been there and done that, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

    My daughter is 18, two months from high school graduation, and suddenly living with me (long story, isn't important for this thread). She has no job yet, her school is 20 miles away, and she is presently uninsured as well.

    I am self employed, have one car (2000 Avalon) and want to help her make a successful transition from dependency to autonomy. In the meantime, I have to get her to school and back every day.

    First step is to get her insured again (she had been insured on mom's policy, totalled a $3,000 used car and mom dropped her from policy). She hasn't driven in four months.

    I need to get a second car so she has something to use. I haven't car-shopped for 8 years or so. Things sure have changed!

    Options seem to be buying a clunker (something like a beater bike only with four wheels and an engine!), buying a pretty good used car (3-4 years old), buying a new "starter car" like the Toyota Yaris, Toyota Corolla, Honda Fit, etc. These new subcompacts are in the $15,000 ball park and come with warranties, not to mention get GREAT gas mileage.

    The other option is to get myself something, and turn the Avalon over to her. Problem is, I like the Avalon and have no particular itch to get something different!

    She will help pay for the car, whatever it is, once she finds a job and has an income. She's a good kid, a responsible kid, and she'll be fine but she needs my help at the moment.

    So, what do you think -- beater car, used newer car, new entry-level car, or a new vehicle for Dear Old Dad? If I had to get something, I'd probably get a Prius or Element or Accord or something, maybe even a small pickup but again, I have no particular desire to change vehicles.

    And getting her a new bike is not the answer, btw...

    Is there a particular make or model you'd recommend or suggest strongly that I avoid?
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  2. #2
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    There is a school of thought that (because of statistics and the dangers facing young drivers (no matter how dependable)) that this age belongs in an older (beater) large heavy car.

    1. This type of car is larger a stronger.
    2. The insurance primiums will be much smaller
    3. The car is less attractive and some of the problems associated with sudden new friends and driving with a crowd all over are avoided.

    Someday when a little more experienced a small new car like the Yaris is fine but the ugly fact is that you have to consider the physics of a Yaris being run over by (insert your large vehicle here).

    Now try to sell that story to an 18 yr old. Best of Luck.

    My next bike rack is going to be a Scion XB

  3. #3
    Streetfire HopedaleHills's Avatar
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    Gary,

    Bravo for you wanting to help get your daughter off the ground. I have two daughters and helped them when they needed it. I ended up with two exceptional young ladies.

    As I see it, a good used car is the way to go. Something like a 4-5 year old Honda Accord/Toyota Camry. Not sexy but dependable and big enough to be safer than a roller skate. That approach worked for me. I was of the opinion that they should really purchase their own new car when they were able.

    Or, I have a 2006 Avalon, very nice. From one Avalon owner to another, I could see you in this car.
    Tim
    Singing Do Wah Ditty, Ditty Dum Ditty Do

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee

    First step is to get her insured again (she had been insured on mom's policy, totalled a $3,000 used car and mom dropped her from policy). She hasn't driven in four months.

    BIG...OLD...Beater car.
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  5. #5
    Old Enough to Know Better WalterMitty's Avatar
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    A 7-8 year old car in the $4000 - $5000 range is your best bet IMO. You'll be looking at somewhere around 100k+ miles on the clock and nothing too flashy.

    Ford Escorts, Chevy Cavaliers, Dodge Neons, Geo's, et al, fall into this range. Not very sexy, but parts and service are available (some dealers are hard to find and charge an arm and a leg, some indepenent shops do better with the more common brands and types) and the wrecking yards are full of them if you need a replacement door or hood or whatever.

    You won't care much if the doors get keyed or a soda gets poured onto the seats. Insurance should be tolerable (with a big enough deductable). Wear items (tires, brakes, etc) don't cost a whole lot.

    I would never give a new car to a teenager to get back and forth to high school. The car probably won't last long enough to justify the depreciation you'll have to eat the day you roll it off the lot. If she finishes High School, gets through college with a degree, and the old beater has been well cared for and is still running (she really shouldn't be racking up more than 10k miles a year anyway) then you can revisit the subject of a new car.

    If she turns up her nose at a 1999 Escort 4 door that's in decent shape, make sure she gets a copy of the bus schedule and a Timex watch.
    Youth we got, what we need is a fountain of Smart!

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  6. #6
    Senior Member tonphil1960's Avatar
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    Hey I dd the same with 2 daughters and have one to go still. I think it her driving is up to snuff anfd you are willing to spend the $$ go New or used off lease. The gas prices today will kill a teen. The old beater is fine but the $ spent on gas could go for a car payment. I have driven large Suv's and Pickups for years I got a Hyundia Sonata now. Beautiful car, 28 to 30 mpg on highway. Keep those gas prices in mind. In my opinion the only way to go is Hyundai, 100,000 warranty, you get that nowhere else. Have a look at the Elantra or Accent. You won't be sorry. JMO

    TP

  7. #7
    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    Buy her a used full sized Mercury, a brown one that her friends will all not envy and that will have significant mass to provide her a reasonable degree of protection in case the bad happens. A big Buick would be the functional equivalent. Don't listen to her "But Dad, it gets bad mileage" argument. After all is said and done, Father Knows Best.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  8. #8
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    This is a bicycle forum. She is young.

    Get her one of these.... an AeroRider


  9. #9
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    give her your car (or sell it to her) and get yourself a 'beater'...

    train safe-

  10. #10
    Senior Member Thrifty1's Avatar
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    Try to find cost per mile stats for a brand/model you are interested in. Cost of License/tax, insurance, and, reliability/maintenance for normal wear and tear (brakes, engine tune ups, alighnments, cooling systems, tires, etc) are variable.........some cars just require more scheduled/unscheduled maintenance.
    Just a thought.......

  11. #11
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    Strangely similar... I love my '99 Avalon and don't want to give it to my 18 yr old, but that is a strong contending outcome. Right now I'm looking for similar age Camry for $4K. The wife points out that if I spend $8K on a car so my two driving sons can work out transportation to their (yet unacquired) summer jobs, ..that they'll probably make less than that for the whole summer (suggesting it is cheaper to let them sloth and sponge the summer away). Aarrgghhhh!
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  12. #12
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbg
    Strangely similar... I love my '99 Avalon and don't want to give it to my 18 yr old, but that is a strong contending outcome. Right now I'm looking for similar age Camry for $4K. The wife points out that if I spend $8K on a car so my two driving sons can work out transportation to their (yet unacquired) summer jobs, ..that they'll probably make less than that for the whole summer (suggesting it is cheaper to let them sloth and sponge the summer away). Aarrgghhhh!
    As I'm thinking about the options and the responses so far, I have to admit giving (selling) her the Avalon is probably the best bet -- it's the only used car I'll know exactly how it's been handled and is running. I have just over 80,000 miles on it. It's big, it's reliable, it runs just fine. She even likes driving it.

    That leaves me to find a reliable beater for me. Where I live, I could probably find a Camry or even a Corolla for under $6 or $7k without too much problem. Or a Civic or Accord.

    God I hate this process!
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  13. #13
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I have two daughters and I would not let them have a car till they had enough money in the bank to pay the insurance and maintain it for a year. About $1500. That made them realise that is was going to cost them to have a car. I then contacted a friend who is in the Motor trade and he found me a car for them. Safe reliable and cheap to insure for around $500. I bought them the car and that was it. They did get annoyed that when they Wanted a better car- Dad would not buy it but that was the reason for them paying the running expenses. One had saved and got a better car a year later- the other had to make do with my heap of junk for 3 years till she learnt to save.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  14. #14
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    <As I'm thinking about the options and the responses so far, I have to admit giving (selling) her the Avalon is probably the best bet -- it's the only used car I'll know exactly how it's been handled and is running. I have just over 80,000 miles on it. It's big, it's reliable, it runs just fine. She even likes driving it. >

    +1

    I've been in the situation with a son and a daughter (now 24 & 22 respectively). Apart from the parenting strategies that I'll leave to others (do they pay for insurance, for gas, for repairs, for the car itself ... ???) the fact is that in some areas, and Southern California is one of them as far as I can tell, they actually do need a car to one degree or another for transportation - unless of course you can be available to drive them everywhere, and that can lead to all sorts of negative social implications that most parents don't want to deal with.

    Anyway, when we had the same decision to make, we felt that we wanted to see them in late model used cars that had relatively modern (and working!) saftey features like ABS brakes, airbags, etc. Your Avalon would certainly fit the bill and give you a good feeling because you know its maintence history. I don't think I'd replace it with a beater for myself though. If you're not ready to update your own wheels, why not consider a good used Camry or Accord or similar?

    Reputable used car salesmen are to find, but they do exist. Word of mouth is usually best - I'd check with neighbors or my regular mechanic.

    Good luck.

  15. #15
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    I have two daughters and I would not let them have a car till they had enough money in the bank to pay the insurance and maintain it for a year. About $1500. That made them realise that is was going to cost them to have a car....
    ... the other had to make do with my heap of junk for 3 years till she learnt to save.
    how silly! here in the good ole US of A it goes "...About $1500. That made YOU realize that it was going to cost YOU to have a car for THEM"...

    that said, Dig, Mazda 626, looks lightweight, but I can vouch for its unbelieveable toughness. My daughter showed it no mercy for 5 years, punished worse than Hoffman in 'Papillon' or Guiness in "River Kwai" and trooped on til this last spring... eventually, inevitably unrecognizable as a vehicle, it persisted in starting every time... It served up many a lesson. Occassionally she would whine "school is so hard, I work way too hard". I'd tell her to step outside and take a look at her car, then tell me again what 'tough' is.
    I stand and salute whenever I see one roll by.

  16. #16
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    Honda Civic, new or used. Stylish, and incredibly reliable, and insurance should be resonable, although she is only 18, your daughter that is.

  17. #17
    Happy Rider
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    DON'T DO IT

  18. #18
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    This coming from one of the world's worst teenage drivers (me in the 70's): One with airbags. Lots of airbags. And hope that she never needs them. I wish I would have had them.

  19. #19
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    I agree, don't do it. For an 18 year old, a car is simply a vortex that absorbs time and energy that should be directed toward what matters most -- schoolwork. Especially seniors -- there is a real tendancy to slump during those last few months before graduation.

    I'm speaking as a former 19 year old car owner.

    Paul

  20. #20
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    I'm going through the same process for the 4th time. I look for a good reliable car that has around 100,000 miles on it for around $5k. I have 400k+ on one of my Toyotas and 200k+ on another Toyota so I'm not afraid of high mileage vehicles. In fact 120k is the least we have on four vehicles.

    We've bought two Jeep Cherokee's (2wd) and am now looking for a Toyota Rav4. A Honda CRV and Subaru Forestor are also good options to look at......I've had such good luck with Toyotas it is hard for me to look at other makes.

    Regardless-get driver and passenger side air bags. Saved my daughter and her friend's life in a very violent collision that my daughter could not have avoided.

    If you can wind up with less than $1000 on the purchase price of the vehicle for every year you own the vehicle you've done good. So, If I get a car for $5000 I'm looking to get more than 5 years out of it......On my 400k vehicle I just need 1 more year!!!!

  21. #21
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx
    There is a school of thought that (because of statistics and the dangers facing young drivers (no matter how dependable)) that this age belongs in an older (beater) large heavy car.

    1. This type of car is larger a stronger.
    2. The insurance primiums will be much smaller
    3. The car is less attractive and some of the problems associated with sudden new friends and driving with a crowd all over are avoided.
    Big old, underpowered, beater car, with an airbag. That would be my choice. I think that limits you to something no older than the mid '90s.

  22. #22
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    Lease her one of the starter cars you mentioned. Reason: Total out of pocket cost.

    For less than $200 a month you've covered all your daughter's car cost with exception of routine maint. and gas. The car is new, has all the newest safety equipment, and is under warranty. I know it might sound insane to lease a kid a new car buttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt, from experience I'm telling you it's the cheapest way to go.

    All used cars, even well maintainted ones like your Avalon, need increasingly expensive service as they age. All of the beater Hondas and Toyotas on your list will need timing belts or chains, new front end suspension parts, along with a host of other new parts just to keep the car reliable. I recently faced this with a well maintained 2003 Accord. The car had 100,000 miles on the clock. At this mileage to turn the car over to my son the car needed the 105,000 mile service. That's a new timing belt, water pump, all new belts and hoses. Additionally it needed the original tires replaced, as well as new shocks. All up we were talking $2700. After spending that money it would be a crap shoot on how much additional dough would have been needed to keep the car going. We lost a similar bet on a 5 year old Pontiac GP a few years earlier. We bought my older son this low milieage used car from a new car dealer for $8,000. Two years in we'd spent another $4k just to keep it running. With the electronics of todays cars, when something goes wrong, it gets expensive in a hurry. Which why we decided against passing on the Accord. Maybe it goes another 100k or maybe it goes 5k before a $1000 dollar part gives it up. For kid number two we leased a new Civic for $188 month/zero out of pocket. You may think that $9k(over four years) is too much to spend. Yet, it beats $12k every day of the week. And not getting that "Dad, I'm at school and the car won't start" phone call is worth every dime.
    I'm just trying to be the person my dog thinks I am.

  23. #23
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    No recommendations, but my experiences. My reliable then 17 y.o.daughter and I found a lovely old pint sized Acura that ran like a top--and cheap. Much fun until it was stolen and wrecked. She replaced that with an $7K 99VW....a constantly breaking down piece of crop. My son worked hard and mostly paid for a $4K 91 Volvo. Great to drive and, as advertized, a frickin' halftrack of durability. (Rear ended and knocked off the road by a 45mph Neon: Neon was totaled, Volvo was fine with no damage. He parlayed the drunken teen girl's father's guilty I'll-buy-the-Volvo-from-you-for-more-than-it's-worth money into a used but well maintained 93 Nissan Z which he loved but which was stolen and wrecked. With insurance money, he bought a 94 CAmaro SS muscle machine which flew like an F18 (on the quarter mile track) with about the same mileage. He sold that and now drives a Dodge SRT-4 still on warranty.

    My moral: Beaters are fine until they beat up the kid's, and ultimately, your checkbook and then have even less resale. I have no worries about my college-age kids being responsible; I don't want either of them marooned in S.F.'s Tenderloin at 11:00 PM (happened to my daughter) because of a crapped out car, nor do I want them driving a safety vulnerable modern equivalent of a Yugo. Dealing with various cars, we've learned value and outcomes of poor choices.

    And don't buy older Beetles! Even if they have a cutesy poo flower vase.
    Last edited by CrossChain; 04-16-07 at 06:28 PM.

  24. #24
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    Craig's List San Diego
    99 Toyota Camry - $5500

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    As I'm thinking about the options and the responses so far, I have to admit giving (selling) her the Avalon is probably the best bet -- it's the only used car I'll know exactly how it's been handled and is running. I have just over 80,000 miles on it. It's big, it's reliable, it runs just fine. She even likes driving it.

    That leaves me to find a reliable beater for me. Where I live, I could probably find a Camry or even a Corolla for under $6 or $7k without too much problem. Or a Civic or Accord.

    God I hate this process!
    I think you've hit on a great idea. We just sold a great-running, very reliable Civic for $2000.00. She would love it!
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