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Car for my son
Old 08-10-2013, 09:13 AM   #1
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Car for my son

I am divorced and I have a son who recently turned 16, and with all 16 year old boys he wants a drivers license and a car. I have an older, well maintained compact car and I bought this car 4 years ago with my son in mind. Although this car is not what my son had hoped for, its what I am willing to do to help him.

My Ex is a poor money manager and sees the child support I give her as more her money than my sons, and as my son has no job his options for a better car are limited.

My son would be required to pay for insurance, maintenance costs, and fuel.

I'm trying to figure what the pitfalls are and how to avoid them.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:23 AM   #2
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Most 16 year old boys are too young to be driving and also not ready for car ownership. One way to show their maturity is working and saving to buy and maintain a second hand car. Selling him the car might be one way to approach this.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Olbidness View Post

My son would be required to pay for insurance, maintenance costs, and fuel.

I'm trying to figure what the pitfalls are and how to avoid them.

Thoughts?
This is where the pitfall may be.

Maybe your son is smarter than I was, but I did have a job. But the concept of maintenance and insurance was beyond me.

I don't recall my parents ever sitting me down and discussing/showing me how much it really costs to own a car. I crashed the cars I had, but eventually went to college and I bet they breathed a sigh of relief!
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:35 AM   #4
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Thinking back to when my h.s. class turned 16 and started driving, I think if you go ahead you'd probably want to *closely* supervise your sons driving. Not sure if my class was typical, but out of 60 students we had several cars totaled / seriously damaged including two police cruisers (that drivers hit).
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:15 AM   #5
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I like Michael's idea of selling him the car. Even if the price is really low, he will care more about it if he pays for it. As far as the dangers of teenage drivers, we all know them. Cars are the number one killer of kids. It is always a risk to give a vehicle to a 16 year old.

Being raised on a farm, I was driving trucks and tractors before my feet could reach the pedals. When I was 13 I rode a dirt bike to school. Back then if you just went straight to school and back home, the law didn't mind underage kids riding off-road machines. When I was 16, I got my Mom's old car. They paid all the cost, including gas, but I was expected to work on the farm everyday. I put in two to three hours of labor everyday growing up, so knew what work was all about when I got out on my own.

But gifts can be taken away. My Mom was going to make me carry my cousin to school in the car, and I really didn't like this girl. So for two years I rode a ten speed seven miles each way. I was in great shape back then, and the bike ride was actually quicker than if I had rode the bus.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:24 AM   #6
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In my view, don't promise him anything now. He doesn't have a license yet. Just tell him for now "lets wait and see".

The best education you can give him now is understanding the real costs of a car. Does he know what insurance and maintenance costs Have him spend some time looking up insurance rates for various cars. Then have him talk to a car mechanic or two about what it takes to maintain a car and what he could be expected to spend.
Also ask him about where he expects to drive and give him some realities about what gas would cost.

If he makes it through that without running screaming into the night, consider making it a condition that he work and perhaps show he saved enough money to cover a years worth of insurance.

Personally, for our kids, when they were able to drive we found the oldest, cheapest car in good shape for them to use (it pays to have friends and acquaintances who are mechanics or own auto shops). I think the "newest" car we let them drive was 8 years old. Insurance is cheaper, and it made the dings and dents they got early in their licensing much easier to ignore.

As an aside, school performance was also a condition for them to drive... particularly when they discovered that good grades meant cheaper insurance.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:36 AM   #7
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I think that 16 is too young to own your own car. Let him get a license and use this car for very specific needs (like work or sports), but otherwise it is just a new toy and a distraction. I say this based on personal experience, having been a 16 year old kid with his own car.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:43 AM   #8
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We allowed our kids the use of a vehicle to go to school and work. While we didn't make them pay for anything other than their own gas, I'm not opposed to the idea. We made it clear that it was their car to use but if they did something really stupid (speeding excessively, DUI, etc) that we would revoke their car privileges. I'm not sure if you could do that if he owned the car. Thankfully, we never had to go down that path.

When I was 16 Dad provided me with a car that I used to travel to school and to work after school at the family businesses. I was responsible for all costs of ownership (insurance, gas, tires, repairs, maintenance, etc.).
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:48 AM   #9
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We allowed our kids the use of a vehicle to go to school and work. While we didn't make them pay for anything other than their own gas, I'm not opposed to the idea. We made it clear that it was their car to use but if they did something really stupid (speeding excessively, DUI, etc) that we would revoke their car privileges.....).
Pretty much what we did with DS. We called it "his car" but we all knew it wasn't until we signed it over to him to sell when he was 25.

DD on the other hand was petrified that we might give her a car and was more than happy just sharing a family car.
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:25 AM   #10
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DON'T GIVE HIM A CAR AT AGE 16!

In many States driving is limited the 1st year to daytime or with parents only. He isn't mature enough and I'll bet, unless your Son goes to a wealthy private school less than 5% of the kids have cars.

If he has an accident or breaks the driving rules for a teenager you could lose everything. DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!!
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:36 AM   #11
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The deal I made my son is I would pay for 1/2 and he would pay the other half of whatever car he wanted (that was affordable). He has been working at a restaurant since he turned 15 and saved enough for 1/2 of a 2003 Toyota Tundra with 116000 miles.

He pays for all gas and maintenance. I pay his insurance (liability) unless he gets a ticket, then he pays for insurance also.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:25 PM   #12
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I do find a lot of the comments about 16 being too young to own a car interesting. Down here in Florida, 16 is the typical age. I went to a public high school where about 300 of the 500 kids in my graduating class got cars when we turned 16, either with help from our parents or with our own money.

There were about three or four crashes during our last two years. Since we graduated in 2011, there have been a lot more. One positive to having kids start driving at home is that they learn the responsibility while their parents are still around to nag and guide them, and stress how dangerous driving really is. It'd make me more nervous to send them on their way to whichever college without having had the training wheels of owning at home. Parents can teach vehicle maintenance and repair a lot easier from home.

Also, for a lot of us, insurance and gas were what inspired us to find any way we possibly could to go out and get the job and make money. Others never got those jobs. It all depends on your own family and son, and what you think you've raised him to be capable of.

I also support the idea of it being in your name instead of his until he's moved out. Stressing the dangers of it all doesn't work much if you can't take it away from him when he does one of the many colossally dumb things teenagers have managed to do since the beginning of time.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:55 PM   #13
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One of the dynamics of being a divorced father in this country is how little power and control I have. My Ex, or my son for that matter, can say or do anything they want and the State makes sure those payments keep coming.

If I give the car to my son or sell it to him and he does not meet up to what we have agreed to there is very little I can do about it. I can't ground him. If I take the car away that could be problematic. Then there is my liability if he wrecks the car and injures himself or injures or kills someone else.

My Ex is so bitter towards me its difficult to have a rational conversation about anything. Normally I prefer not communicating with her but for my sons sake it should be different. That's just the way it is. It's a comfortable cold war.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:58 PM   #14
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We are at the same situation. I have a 16 year old now only 1 month away from being 17 and he has yet to get his license, but has his permit and working on the driving hours. We intentionally made him wait until he was 16 1/2 to start the process knowing he would be over 17 when he earned his license. I just heard some statistics yesterday that over half the nations teen drivers nowadays don't get licensed until over 17 and I don't recall the exact figure but it was like over 34% maybe didn't until over 18.

There's lots of statistics that also prove that a 17 year old boy is considerably better at making less rash quick driving decisions (better ones too) than a 16 year old since their brains continue to develop until age 25. At 18 it's even safer. European countries are considering or have gone to 18 year min for driving. Then there's less years of Mom and Dad's insurance shooting up to account for too.

For the record I think it teaches a great lesson to make a kid earn a car. I had to and so did my DW. It's one of the key factors I could point to in both our life lesson frugality and memories of saving for an important goal.

My son will first share his Mom's 2005 Prius and be allowed the key to get to work and important functions as long as he meets his expectations. There is no greater power of influence than the power of "the key".

He works to pay for gas and save for college expenses.

A few years later he will have the option to buy it for probably a steeply discounted price. My belief is that giving a kid a car implants a feeling of entitlement. Not gonna happen.
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Old 08-10-2013, 03:55 PM   #15
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One of the dynamics of being a divorced father in this country is how little power and control I have. My Ex, or my son for that matter, can say or do anything they want and the State makes sure those payments keep coming.

If I give the car to my son or sell it to him and he does not meet up to what we have agreed to there is very little I can do about it. I can't ground him. If I take the car away that could be problematic. Then there is my liability if he wrecks the car and injures himself or injures or kills someone else.

My Ex is so bitter towards me its difficult to have a rational conversation about anything. Normally I prefer not communicating with her but for my sons sake it should be different. That's just the way it is. It's a comfortable cold war.
Seems like it makes more sense to let him use the car while you retain ownership. You pay the insurance and maintenance, controlling your liability (and it won't be cheap). You can then restrict access if he fails to live up to your agreement with him. He can buy a car he really wants when he is ready to pay for it. Is this really something that makes sense (he drives himself so you don't have to), or just something he wants? I thought hardly anyone in the latest generation wanted to drive. My DS's were never interested in bikes, but do like cars.
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:10 PM   #16
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One of the dynamics of being a divorced father in this country is how little power and control I have. My Ex, or my son for that matter, can say or do anything they want and the State makes sure those payments keep coming.

If I give the car to my son or sell it to him and he does not meet up to what we have agreed to there is very little I can do about it. I can't ground him. If I take the car away that could be problematic. Then there is my liability if he wrecks the car and injures himself or injures or kills someone else.

My Ex is so bitter towards me its difficult to have a rational conversation about anything. Normally I prefer not communicating with her but for my sons sake it should be different. That's just the way it is. It's a comfortable cold war.
Sounds like a very uncomfortable cold war. I feel for you. Just pass; say you would like to help but can't at presently.
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:24 PM   #17
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Looks like you have a lot of advice. To correct a statement however, driving is actually on the decline. And, according to the U of Michigan study, yourger people are waiting to get their license. Here are the reasons:

the University of Michigan survey design to learn why young people are applying for their driver license at a much older age than previous generations. (on a personal note, I would make sure he has a good bike, bus money and access to a car when/if he needed it)

The top eight reasons (primary or secondary) for not having a driver’s license were as follows: (1) too busy or not enough time to get a driver’s license (37%), (2) owning and maintaining a vehicle is too expensive (32%), (3) able to get transportation from others (31%), (4) prefer to bike or walk (22%), (5) prefer to use public transportation (17%), (6) concerned about how driving impacts the environment (9%), (7) able to communicate and/or conduct
business online instead (8%), and (8) disability/medical/vision problems (7%).
Of the respondents, 22% indicated that they plan on never getting a driver’s license. On the other hand, 69% expect to get a driver’s license within the next five years.

Here is a link for the UofM study The reasons for the recent decline in young driver licensing in the U.S.
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:26 PM   #18
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For contrast, I'll say that both my daughters started at 16 and drove cars financed by the Bank of Dad, except for gas.

The feeling of relief after DW and I graduated from chauffeur duty was worth a lot.

One parking lot ding and two low-speed fender benders so far in a combined nine years of driving. No regrets.

Maybe there's a bias against sons vs. daughters? (and perhaps with good reason....)
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Old 08-10-2013, 05:39 PM   #19
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I really don't mind being the family chauffeur, keeps me involved and it is a great time to have discussions and keep lines of communication open (and I'm RE'd and available). Heard from some kids that with Facebook & texting and online collaborative gaming, that the impetus to hang out with peers is less, they do it via electronic media.

And as pointed out, the trend is to later start to driving in our area. It is not the the big deal now that it was 20-40 years ago. Of course, my observation has been that the more rural the area, the mor anxious the kids want to drive.
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:43 PM   #20
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I think that 16 is too young to own your own car. Let him get a license and use this car for very specific needs (like work or sports), but otherwise it is just a new toy and a distraction. I say this based on personal experience, having been a 16 year old kid with his own car.
Make sure your Umbrella policy is paid up although it might be expensive because the risk of being sued into oblivion because of any injury accident is high.
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