As you weigh used cars and new cars, price tags and the cool factor, use this guide to balance your teen's wish list with the kind of car you want to look for.
- Check out best-of lists. USAA's top 10 cars for teens on its Best Value vehicles list highlights cars for teens based on factors like reliability, safety and affordability.
- Get the Carfax Vehicle History Report if you're buying a used car. This report, found through a car's VIN or license tag number, can alert you if a car's been totaled in a previous accident or damaged in a flood.
- Have an Automotive Service Association-certified mechanic check the car inside, outside and underneath.
- Use online resources to compare the sticker price, which the dealer wants you to pay; the invoice price, which is what the dealer paid; and the true market price. USAA Car Buying Service offers research tools and a network of dealers to help you find the right car at the right price for you.
- Investigate insurance costs. Good grades and driving records can bring down overall costs for your family, as can some of the safety features available in today's vehicles.