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View Poll Results: which car should I let my kid drive?
Let her drive the Miata!! 14 31.82%
Sell the Miata and buy a HumVee or a 'safe' practical car 16 36.36%
tell her to take the bus or still haul her tush around like a good dad. 14 31.82%
Voters: 44. You may not vote on this poll

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So which car should I let my kid drive?
Old 08-30-2011, 10:49 PM   #1
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So which car should I let my kid drive?

Okay talk me into or out of this idea. I mentioned a few months ago that I was teaching my daughter to drive a stick shift. She has the concept down pretty well and in fact is going this Friday to take her driving test in the Miata. I am very confidant she will pass as I have been with her driving almost every day over the past year.

My question is to the wisdom of what I am thinking here. I own 3 cars now and really don't want to buy a 4th if I can help it even though I do have room for a 4th. The Miata is a 1994 with 38,000 miles on it--basically a garage queen. But it is a very nice car in excellent shape. However the blue book on it is about $3800 last time I checked. My gut feeling is I don't believe I can get as nice of car in as good of condition for $3800.

In my mind the pluses:

She can only have one other friend in the car, so no back seat kids, so she won't be turning around to look at them. But just having one kid in the car is huge as I have noticed with teens that peer pressure and attitudes, etc increase with the addition of each kid.

None of her friends know how to drive a stick, so there will be no borrowing of the car (not that I am too worried about that as she knows it would be immediate grounding and loss of said car if I ever caught someone driving the car).

She can't have anything in her hands as she has to shift, so no cell phone, etc (again not a huge worry as again immediate grounding and loss of use of the car if I catch her doing that).

Driving a car with a clutch requires you to pay more attention than an automatic. You have to anticipate the curve and shift down or up, whereas in an automatic it shifts down for you. So I feel she will be paying much more attention to her driving.

It is a very nimble car and so if something comes up I think she would be able to quickly respond to it.

It is still my car that she gets to drive and thus there are times I will want to drive it and I will still have it available to drive.

The negatives:

A small sporty type car and a teen seems like a bad combination. Granted it is a rural area and the car has a very low center of gravity and she is a teen girl (as opposed to a teen boy). However she seems like a cautious driver and she has been driving now for a year.

Most people wreck or damage their first car (I didn't but I believe most people do). I honestly think if she damaged it, it would be via a parking lot accident but I also don't want a wrecked car or a damaged daughter!

I would have said insurance but so far that number isn't scaring me. So for now that isn't a negative.

So what say you parents and others out there in er land. Let her drive the Miata or trade it in and get her something else. And if so, what kind of car would you get a teen girl?
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:58 PM   #2
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I would want a vehicle that did well in safety tests, and above all, had an airbag.
Simple as that..I want a car that offers the greatest protection should the worst case senario occur..
Despite all your teaching, coaching and planning..there's always the other guy.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:01 PM   #3
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Not in a million years.

Go buy another car if you want to hand her a car. Pick something unsexy, big and safe. IMO, the gold standard is the Highway Loss Data Institute numbers which show relative insurer loss costs by model. You want something well below average in the bodily injury category and a car that weighs at least 3500 pounds.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by hakuna matata View Post
She can't have anything in her hands as she has to shift, so no cell phone, etc (again not a huge worry as again immediate grounding and loss of use of the car if I catch her doing that).
I agree with your pluses except this one. Doesn't take long to learn how to hold the steering wheel and something else in one hand or press your thighs against the bottom of the wheel while taking both hands off the wheel for the time it takes to shift.

Big disadvantage of a miata is it's weight. The physics of collision favor the heavier vehicle. I haven't researched cars since 2004 so I don't know if the following is still true. Trucks and SUVs are built to different safety standards than cars. It's the combo of size and safety minded construction that matters.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPatrick View Post
I would want a vehicle that did well in safety tests, and above all, had an airbag.
Simple as that..I want a car that offers the greatest protection should the worst case senario occur..
Despite all your teaching, coaching and planning..there's always the other guy.
+1 Yes, if I were going to provide a car for her, I'd want one that was safe, and one that is reliable as well.

The type of car is not responsible for teens using cell phones while driving. The type of car also is not responsible for teens taking their eyes off the road to talk to friends. The teen is responsible for both of these, not the car. So, I would base my selection on other factors.

However, I voted for #3. Teens need to learn the value of money, and that cars don't just grow on trees.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:17 PM   #6
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My initial reaction was going to be that she needs to be in something more substantial than a Miata.

Then I remembered that my daughter's first car was a Geo (which she totaled when an adult cut her off) and her second car was a Mercury Mystique. Both compact cars and only slightly more substantial than a Miata.

We put my son in a Subaru Legacy, again not a particularly substantial car but AWD was a positive since we live in the snow belt.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:22 PM   #7
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We put my son in a Subaru Legacy, again not a particularly substantial car but AWD was a positive since we live in the snow belt.
Actually, I would say the subarus (non turbo) are about ideal. They are heavy for their size, stable, not particularly highly powered and have a sterling crash test rescord. The ones built in the last several years actually have a cage of hardened rebar around the passenger compartment that is so tough emergency crews sometimes have to be creative with the jaws of life to get around the rebar.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:27 PM   #8
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You said you have 3 vehicles. What are the other two?

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Old 08-30-2011, 11:32 PM   #9
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I agree that most teens wreck their first car and for that reason, I'd put her in the sturdiest, most safe car possible.
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Old 08-31-2011, 06:04 AM   #10
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I'd get my kid a truck.

You can haul stuff on the weekends.
Older trucks and dents go hand-in-hand
No back seat
Can't carry a lot of folks (if I hear that you were hauling folks in the bed, I'm going to shave your head and take away all your blue jeans)
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:08 AM   #11
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My now-33 year old daughter was a bad driver when she first got her license. I would not let her drive a stick shift; I told her she needs to put the car in "D" and then pay attention to the road. I think new drivers tend to think too much about the clutching and shifting and forget they need to watch the road.
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:12 AM   #12
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You said you have 3 vehicles. What are the other two?

DD
a Ford Sporttrac which is the main family get around vehicle and she will be driving this as well. The other car is my BMW and I don't think so I consider the Miata a safe car actually so it isn't the safety issue but the sports car issue that concerns me. And to be honest it isn't 'now' that I am concerned about it, it is in about 3-6 months when she is comfortable with driving and complacency sets in.

The car isn't 'hers' it is mine, and I am letting her use it. For my wife and I we are excited as it opens up our evenings a bit. If she has an activity after school she can take a vehicle and go to it, but it isn't like I am giving her the keys and saying see ya!

The texting or calling on the cell phone I am not concerned about at all. I have always treated her as an adult and when she doesn't follow the rules the hammer comes down big time. She got caught using her cell phone at school one day (a big no no) and she lost the use of it for a long time, I am nothing if not consistent. I have known her and her personality almost all her life (heh!) so I fell confidant in that. Well as confidant as anyone can be with a teen. Not so naive that I dont' think it can happen but I (and she) both know the consequences of it if she does. Loss of use of a car, no cell and grounding for about 6 months. I honestly don't think she will take that risk.
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:20 AM   #13
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Based on my experience (two daughters, both had accidents shortly after beginning to drive) I'd say the Miata is a bad idea from both the safety and "too sporty" standpoints. A more substantial, less exciting vehicle is a much better choice.

Maybe something like this:
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:29 AM   #14
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Having been a kid, no way on the Miata. I'd suggest a 10 year old Crown Victoria. And take out the back seat.
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:34 AM   #15
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While your daughter may be a safe and cautious driver, others on the road, especially the younger set may not be. I would not put either of my kids in a Miata and would suggest something larger that has good safety/crash ratings.
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:36 AM   #16
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I bought my daughter an older Mustang .It looked sporty but shook if you went above 50 . Plus it was as heavy as a tank . She was only allowed to have only one friend in the car and was not allowed to do anything distracting while driving . That car lasted for quite a few years and she never had an accident .
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:52 AM   #17
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Im for the person talking about a pickup. No bells and whistles, just a basic one. They will stand up better in a crash, you cant get a back seat full of friends to distract her, and you can use it to haul things if you need.
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:54 AM   #18
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Cool car + teenager = trouble.

The car needs to be safe and sturdy and also older and as uncool as possible. The miata is way too cool.
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Old 08-31-2011, 08:01 AM   #19
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I'd get my kid a truck.

You can haul stuff on the weekends.
Older trucks and dents go hand-in-hand
No back seat
Can't carry a lot of folks (if I hear that you were hauling folks in the bed, I'm going to shave your head and take away all your blue jeans)
Most trucks are RWD and tend to be slip and slide in slippery weather. FWD is more stable and AWD is ever more surefooted. My view would be that FWD or AWD would be best of an inexperienced driver.

Rather than sell the Miata, if you can swing it perhaps you can get her an older Subie or even a Baja (Subaru car/pickup) which is pretty solid, sure-footed but still cool (at least to my eye).
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Old 08-31-2011, 08:11 AM   #20
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Yes, almost every new driver scratches their car. No, almost every new driver does not "wreck" their car.

Let's be clear: if you really, seriously think that your daughter has a real, serious likelihood of a severe collision, then you should not encourage her to drive any vehicle. (Indeed, getting her the heaviest one available, as someone seemed to suggest above as a way to "win" in a collision, would be massively irresponsible under such circumstances. How would you feel about the parents of a kid in a 5,000-lb truck who slid across the road into you in a curve, because she'd never learned to drive such a heavy vehicle?)

In practice, we are talking here about marginal factors. Kind of like whether you should eat broccoli or carrots as one of your 5-a-day. We're not comparing fresh vegetables with a diet of lard (aka "motorcycles"). Every car on the road today is waaaay safer than every car that was on the road 35 years ago.

I have a daughter who recently passed her test, and I also have an 11-year-old MX-5 (as the Miata was called in Europe, and indeed is now called in the US since the people who owned the trademark of the pushbike of the same name got after Mazda). It has an aftermarket turbo, so there's 168hp under the hood. She came home from college and wanted to drive...

I would have had no hesitation in letting her drive the Miata. But she wanted to be able to drive more than one friend around with her. So she spent the summer in our 10-year-old Nissan Maxima QX, whose power-to-weight (3.0 V6, 199hp) is actually about the same (and with way less good handling). I'd have actually preferred her to get some practice with the manual gearbox, but you can't have everything.

She put a couple of scratches on the Maxima's bumper because it's a tight squeeze to get out of our drive, which she wouldn't have had a problem with in the smaller car.

Unless you have something crazily powerful like a Ferrari, I don't think the choice of vehicle makes a huge difference. To some extent, the Miata is much safer than many cars, especially in the summer: you are much more aware of what's going on than in a near-silent air-conditioned "boat", and it gets you out of trouble thanks to its precision handling ("you don't drive this car, you wear it" was a memorable review, reflecting the fact that it goes where you point it - there's no lag which you get when a front-wheel drive car has to follow behind a turn of the wheel).
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