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Safety Tips for Hand-Me-Down Cars

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Personal Injury


Teen drivers are more likely to get into car crashes than people in any other age bracket. Because of this, budget concerns, and many other reasons, many teens drive hand-me-down cars from parents or other relatives. Even teens who purchase a car are likely to buy used cars. In fact, many such teens purchase secondhand cars directly from the previous owner rather than from a dealership in order to save a little bit of money.

While budget concerns are important to consider when getting teens their first cars, it is important to remember that safety should be the primary consideration. Many people think that it is a good idea to let teens drive “junkers” or old cars far past their prime. However, research has revealed that teens driving cars that are older than a few years old is a big risk.

This is due to two factors. First, older cars are less likely to have the most up-to-date safety measures. These measures are even more important if a driver is inexperienced, because they mitigate the effects of a crash or even prevent crashes from happening in the first place. Second, as a car ages, it becomes more likely to break down or have mechanical issues. Inexperienced drivers are both less likely to notice warning signs before an issue becomes serious and less likely to know how to deal with any problems that do occur.

Five Tips to Make Your Hand-me-down Car Safer for Your Teen

Although older cars are a riskier choice for teen drivers than newer vehicles, you can sill safely have your teen use a hand-me-down car if you follow these five tips.

  • Make sure that the car has all the standard safety features that cheap current cars have automatically. This means that the car must at least have airbags, electronic stability control, an antilock braking system (ABS), automatic transmission and daytime running lights. These features assure that teens are best covered in the event of an accident. While average cars may not have these features on older models, older luxury cars have had these for years, so it is not impossible to find a good deal.
  • Get the car checked out before ever letting your teen drive. It is important for you to get a mechanic to check out the brakes, transmission, engine and other features of the car to make sure nothing is faulty. This will assure that your teen won’t be unexpectedly stranded due to car trouble.
  • Get the car regular follow-up checkups. Just because nothing seems wrong does not mean that nothing is wrong. The older your teen’s car is, the more important it is to have a mechanic regularly check the car out for any potential problems.
  • Consider a model with a four-cylinder engine. While V6 engines may be more popular, they offer power that your teen won’t need. A four-cylinder engine will limit your teen’s acceleration (an thus mitigate the temptation to speed) and will offer the added bonus of better fuel economy.
  • Remember that big is not always best. Often it is tempting to get your teen the biggest SUVs or trucks available, thinking that this will protect better in a crash. While for this reason you should not get very small cars for teens, you also should not get extremely large cars for your teen either. These vehicles can be difficult to control for inexperienced drivers. The ideal teen vehicle would be a smaller SUV or comparable car.

If you follow these guidelines, your teen will be able to use secondhand cars safely, letting your mind be at ease both over the budget and your teen’s safety.

In the event of an accident, we invite you to call us for a free consultation with our Chicago personal injury attorneys: (312) 236-2900.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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