By on August 19, 2011

Intrigued?

 

Evan writes:

Hi Sajeev and Steve,

I’m looking to find a safe car in the $5 to $7k area to serve as a teenager’s first vehicle. My wife and I want to make sure the kids are safe. We have 4 children, so we’re looking for 4 doors. The kids will be paying for the gas, so we’re probably looking for a 4-cylinder sedan for the mileage…plus, we hope that an 8 to 11 second 0-60 time will slightly discourage hoonery (though it didn’t when I was 16). Trouble is, used car values are so high right now that not many cars seem to fit the bill. Where is the “best” safety and reliability trade-off between the cars that hold value well (accord, civic, camry, corolla) and those that are newer/ lower mileage? Can you, Steve, and the B&B help?

Thanks,
Evan


Steve Answers:

When it comes to the $5k to $7k range it’s not the car that’s truly important, it’s the prior owner.

There are Camrys and Accords that are as wore out as an old mop. Along with thousands of ‘unpopular cars’ that have been diligently maintained and well kept.

Your goal should be to find a reliable and safe car that is at least a midsize. Brand doesn’t matter so much. Yes there are specific models that are stinkers (any Chrysler with a 2.7L for instance). But if you go to owner review sites that have qualitative feedback such as Carsurvey and Edmunds, you should be able to thresh them out of the mix pretty quick.

I would start with family, friends and work. Find out if anyone has a good candidate and then apply the process that I outlined in my car buying series at TTAC. When it comes to car buying you need to rely on experts because a lot of expensive issues an be well hidden. Get the vehicle independently inspected and consider even going to an enthusiast site to find out what potential issues may be down the road once the vehicle checks out.

This is one of those times in life where investing in a professional and doing diligent research will likely pay off in ways far beyond ‘money’. If you invest in ‘the process’ and the people, your return will pay off in the long run. Be patient and enjoy doing something good for your kid.

Sajeev Answers:

I will default to Steve Lang when it comes to cheap family sedan analysis, he knows the market better than anybody. My only word of caution is to avoid the “hot” brands in this economy, I don’t believe the value proposition is strong enough. In your budget, I rather like the Nissan Altima for comfort and economy. But I would encourage you to forget about fuel economy for a moment, and look at any GM W-body product (my fav is the Oldsmobile Intrigue), something truly despicable like a Chrysler Sebring, or an old body style Vulcan V6 Taurus/Sable…cuz those Duratec V6s are too damn fast for kids!

Most teenagers don’t fall in love with their first car, unless they got lucky and had a (vintage) 1965 Ford Galaxie hardtop as their first whip. I still miss that car. Your kid shouldn’t wind up like me, and minimize your cash outlay right from the start. I’m likin’ me some Olds Intrigue right now…the kids might actually appreciate it too!

 

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

135 Comments on “New or Used: Discouraging Teenage Hoonery…or Not?...”


  • avatar
    salhany

    The Intrigue is a good choice. I had one with the 3.5 as my daily driver for 5 years, put almost 100K on it and sold it at 135K miles. It’s a comfortable ride and it handled pretty well for a car of this size. It’s far more European-feeling than typical Olds’ of a few years prior. The 3.5 burned a little bit of oil so it might be a good teaching opportunity to get a teenager accustomed to checking fluid levels routinely.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    That body kit is a little unfortunate but still, the Intrigue is one gorgeous car. It’s aged well too, like the last Mazda RX-7, the MX-6, and the Nissan 240SX.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Panther Love!

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    +1 for Steve. Get a good car. Don’t be too specific about make and model.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’ll go with Sajeev and say old style Taurus/Sable. 3.0V6 feels like an old school small block, decent torque and doesn’t like to rev. Transmission issue are over exaggerated and transmissions are cheap and plentiful for those cars.

    Although even having a 1982 Chevy Celebrity with the legendary “Iron-Puke” 4cyl didn’t stop me from “hoonery.” I even managed to get all for tires off the ground at the crest of one of Ohio’s rolling little hills.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      Those Vulcan V-6′s are great. Ran through a ‘puddle’ at night that splashed several dozen gallons of fresh stormwater into the engine bay, popping my S-belt off (and shredding it in the process). Ran for 20 miles with no more damage then some mildly cooked motor oil. That truck’s still cranking no worse for wear.

      But for the kiddo’s, I would go with the 2.7 Chrysler engine, a slusgetastic VW contraption, or the Duratec’s that eat more heads then, well.. Nothing teaches dumb young kids to drive sane then being stuck with a busted engine on a dark night far from home with no cell reception.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    ’05 or ’06 Pontiac Grand Prix with the 3.8L V6 (no supercharger and certainly no LS4 V8!!!). Get one with the side air bag option (look for the side airbag covers along the headliner, I believe they were close to both the B and C pillars if memory serves me correctly).

    On the JD Power long term reliability list. On the Consumer Reports recommended used car list. The Generation III 3.8L GM V6 is absolutely bullet proof along with the 4-speed auto. Baby it on the highway and 30 MPG isn’t out of the question, 18 in town with a gentle pedal. Zero to 60 time in the 8 second range so not an onramp burner. Computer controlled top speed of 108 MPH. Parts are dirt cheap. It is a very easy car to work on. The only real problem the car has is the intermediate steering shaft needs lubrication to prevent “clunking” noises – think $150 every 20K miles. Even better, try to find one that had the shaft replaced and the issue won’t be an issue at all.

    Because most of these were rental fleet fodder it isn’t all that hard to find one in the $6K to $7K price range that still has plenty of life remaining in it. Insurance on them is dirt cheap, they are not rated as sports cars by insurance agencies.

    On the subject of rental fleet fodder, look for a consumer unit versus a former rental unit. They are easy to find as most consumer units have steering wheel audio controls, rental models mostly don’t. There doesn’t seem to be much of a premium for equipped versus stripped, so I would try to find one with equipped at the stripper price. They are out there.

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      RE: the W Body intermediate steering shaft issue, a can of white lithium grease sprayed into the boot surrounding the knuckle every 20K miles works too. $5 > $150. I have a can sitting at home for that very task this weekend…

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      Good post APa, I agree with your car choice as well as trying to find a car with side air bags.

      Having raised 4 kids, 2 boys 2 girls(they’re all now over 26), safety was always my first concern and it paid off. Between the age of 17 and 21 my 4 kids in a total of 16 driving years had a combined 13 accidents, including 4-5 totals(pretty serious accidents). Some were not their fault, some were.

      I always tried to buy mid to large size cars for them, not something that was cutsie/small, the ones that teens aspire to…..You can’t put a price tag on the lives of your kids and their friends.

      Also beg them to always wear their seatbelts and to demand their teen friends wear them as well. I also begged them to never drink and drive or get into a car as a passanger with a driver they knew had been drinking……My deal was, “No matter where you are, no matter what time it is, if you’ve been drinking, don’t drive or be a passenger in a drinkers car, call me, I’ll come pick you up and bring you home, no questions, no grilling the next day, just a hug, no lecture”.

      I got a few 1:00-2:00am calls over those years, it did nothing but grow our relationship/bond and I think motivate them to stay away from the drinking/partying crowd.

      Note- The NJ town I lived in at the time my kids drove was on a string of something like 12-14 consecutive years of teen driving fatalities.

      • 0 avatar
        gsw0

        Let me add 1 thing that has not been addressed yet.
        GET UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE IN HIGH LIMITS FOR YOUR KIDS & ON ALL YOUR VEHICLES.

        All the safety features in the world still cannot stop stupid drivers from having bad accidents. From an insurance adjuster who sadly has seen way too many people with serious injuries have zero coverage because “POPS” wanted to save a few bucks on his insurance and think it is always the other guy who has a serious injury. I have a desk full of claims involving ” The Other Guy” right now. 1 in 4 vehicles in my state are uninsured, want to gamble with low coverage and your kids?

      • 0 avatar
        steeringwithmyknees

        My parents had the same rule about drinking – except they expected me to stay wherever i was or get a ride. It always stunned me how many of my friends, even after me and others trying to reason with them, would drive home because their families didn’t have such a rule.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      I agree with Dan, Morbo, and APaGtth, both the 3800 V6 and the Vulcan 3.0 V6 are cheap, solid platforms suitable for teenager service. I was taught you buy a platform, not a car. I have seen these vehicles do well over 200K by the time they hit the boneyard. In the past five year I have owned several vehicles including a 2000 Taurus 3.0L and a 2008 Grand Prix 3.8L. The Taurus did 153K the last time I saw it in 2007, my Grand Prix currently stands at 62K.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      Window regulators can fail constantly on the W-body. Cheapo plastic guides.

      The replacement intermediate shaft will still clunk after a few thousand miles. It’s a design problem. No fix will ever occur. Keep the grease gun handy.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    My one friend who has owned just everything up to the 2004 model year, bought his daughter a Z3. Figured she couldn’t haul a boat full of people and if there was a boy in the right seat he couldn’t make too many moves at least while the top was up.

    Many guys at work get 200,000-300,000 miles out of their 4-cylinder S-10 Chevy pick-up. It should have sedan low priced insurance, sits up higher than a car for better visibility, plus you could borrow for it’s utility.

    • 0 avatar
      drylbrg

      While the S-10 has good visibility and is easy to maintain I don’t remember them doing very well in crash tests. I don’t think I’d go that route for a teenage driver.

      • 0 avatar
        fincar1

        I still remember the S10 my daughter’s boyfriend had. Like my mechanic told me, “They have good motors, it’s the little parts hung on them that are mediocre.” Things like water pumps etc…. Otoh, like a previous poster said, it’s a good way to teach kids that the wheels have to be maintained.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        With an S-10 it’s every piece besides the powertrain that mediocre. Rust all around, cheap plastics inside and out, electrics, the aforementioned water pump, exhaust, the list goes on. Drylbrg is spot on about crash tests. They crumple just as well as Ventures and Cavaliers. The S-10 was GM’s way of saying “you should have gone with a half-ton truck.”

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Interesting bunch of choices. A z-3 with any of the sixes (2.5, 2.8, 3.0) will get the driver into more trouble than he/she can handle and before he/she has any time to think about it. (And I assume you’re not talking about the wild-ass 300 hp 3.2 in the M car.) Maybe the 4-cylinder is sufficiently tame.

      Pickup trucks are generally some of the most unsafe vehicles on the road, mostly because of the problems in stopping them quickly with very little weight over the rear wheels. And rear wheel lock up in a panic stop is always an adventure. ABS avoids that problem, but you’re still trying to stop the vehicle with basically only the front wheels. Also subject to trailing throttle oversteer in the rain, if your tires aren’t good.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        Share you sentiment DC Bruce, see my post above.

        Bottom line is most young 16-17year old teens(the girls are worse) are terrible drivers to begin with, add in a cell phone(something I didn’t have to worry about with my kids), a loud stereo and other teen passengers…….and a car can be a deadly weapon.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Vulcan powered Taurus/Sable is the way to go. The old pushrod 3.0 is durable, cheap to repair/replace if something does go wrong, and gets reasonable enough MPG for the amount of room. They aren’t in high demand so you can get a newer, lower mile, better condition unit for your money than you would with a Honda or Toyota. It’s what I put my son in.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Well said. They can take abuse, are cheap to buy/insure/run. They are safe and reliable. And, the give your kid a chance to sneak on some SHO suspension parts…SLO but corners flat.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    How about one of the last Escorts 02ish, or a 05ish Focus? My dad had an Escort that was pretty trouble free, maintenance items aside, for 100k before my brother rearranged its front end. He regularly reported 30ish combined. Or my friend has an 07 Focus that has been pretty good to him for the better part of 120k.

  • avatar
    Mellow

    It is a mistake to get a 4 door for a kid’s first car. I learned this from experience. Kids always pile into the car with the most room, so that sedan will become a random kid transporter on your insurance. Forget about fuel economy, since safety is far more important than cash where kids are concerned, so look for tonnage. I bought first cars for my two teenage boys, got the first one an eight year old Marquis and the younger got got a ten year old Coupe De Ville after I realized that the sedan was a magnet for becoming the friendmobile. Better my kids go skiing in the OTHER kid’s car.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      There is some merit to the “more room” car cocerns. I had the big four door (Fury) that had the killer stereo, so for places that required some traveling, my car was usually the one to go. I was actually (mostly)responsible, at least in the context of teen decision making. The tonnage comment is not accurate thought. Small is out, but many of the heaviest vehicles has such spiteful handling that I see too many instances that the “tons” will be out of control, increasing the likelyhood of injuring your kids, not to mention the other kids they may hit (they are, after all somebody’s kids)

  • avatar

    Volvo S40. Decent car, not really popular, so used prices tend to be lower.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Consider a driving school for the kids. Learning how to control a car near the limits will make them safer on the streets than the driver ed. they’ll get otherwise. At the course I took, there was a high school kid there because he had twice looped the family SUV into the woods. His mom had brought him. Don’t let this be your child.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Learning how to control a car near the limits will make them safer on the streets than the driver ed.

      Studies show time and again that this is false. Advanced driver training encourages more testing of the limits, which leads to more accidents.

      No, skidpad training is not a good idea. Make sure that the kids are sober, that they avoid tailgating and that they keep their speeds down while they learn.

      And don’t let them get into the habit of hauling around their friends, as stupidity is a sort of sport among kids, and they will encourage each other to be as stupid as is humanly possibly. The biggest threat to kids on the road is not an inability to maneuver like a track driver, but their inclination to be dumb and reckless.

      • 0 avatar
        mitchw

        I can’t argue with studies I can’t read. But learning about the limits of a car, and your own limitations means that you can recognize danger in every day driving. The simple lesson of practicing looking where you want to go rather than where you are going, is a life saver. A course can also demonstrate how utterly mundane most driving is, making it a big zero to go fast in a straight line, but terrifying to go fast around a blind turn. Got links?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Got links?

        I’ve posted numerous studies on this subject on various threads of this website. They all contradict your position.

        Driver training does not improve driving behavior, and it’s bad behavior, not a lack of talent, that causes accidents. Your beliefs are myths that are popular among car enthusiasts and the general public, but are dismissed by academic research.

        A lot of accidents could be avoided if people simply chilled out. Kids tend not to be good at that, which along with their inexperience is why they crash at higher rates than the general population.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        What studies?

        That’s like telling a bicyclists the more you ride the better chance of you falling.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Pch, I wouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried:

        http://www.carsdirect.com/car-safety/does-defensive-driving-school-reduce-insurance-premiums

        Even the insurance companies will reduce your rates if you complete a defensive driving program, egardless of age. Remember once the physical condition is in place, there is no time a behavioral response. :)

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        Good post PCH, I love your line, “stupidity is sort of a sport among kids”. I will put it in my memory bank.

        ***This for an earlier PCH101 post.

      • 0 avatar
        Mellow

        Back in 1969 my father thought that the way I drove my Mustang would get me killed, so he sent me to the Bondurant School of Defensive Driving in Ontario, California. After a week of that, watching their competition school screaming their Formula Fords around the track, I convinced my father to let me stay another week for the competition course.

        What I learned there did nothing for my attitude, but it sure saved my life many times over, until I got old enough to slow down. Look – you can pretend to believe in the law of big numbers, but in the end it comes down to very small numbers. One son, one accident, one funeral. You can beg your kids to stay away from everything YOU fear, but your children are fully able humans in their own right. Deny them the tools, and you can weep at the results. Give them all the tools and all the information, and then if they succumb to youthful foolishness, you can tell yourself that you did the best you could. Pretending that you can keep them away from life by merely not teaching them about it, is, as my youngest used to say, “Isn’t that just stupid!”

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Actually Pch, others have asked when this topic has come up here on TTAC for you to link to “studies” to support this position and you have never provided a single link to your position that advanced driver training makes you a worse driver.

        I certainly would like to read these studies. I’ve done extensive searches on Google and found nothing. The only thing I ever found was a 2007 story out of New York indicating that some drivers who were required to attend driving school attended some schools that were bad, and gave bad lessons that produced bad drivers. But that certainly wouldn’t be a data point to support your unsubstantiated opinion that advanced driver training = worse drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      For those requesting links:

      http://dmv.ca.gov/about/profile/rd/rde5.htm

      Money quote:
      “The range program proved to be more effective than the standard program in reducing subsequent accident rates and, to our knowledge, is the only rigorous empirical demonstration in the literature of a positive net accident effect due to any driver training variable.”

      and, since you’re on the internet, you could, you know, google it?

      http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=driver+training+and+accidents

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Anything with wheels, including skateboards and bicycles, can be hooned. Horsepower only determines the degree of hoonery, not the odds of it. If the kids can’t be trusted to behave themselves (at least most of the time), then give them each a bus pass.

    Otherwise, I would go with the lower horsepower versions of old folks cars, such as Buicks with the 3800. Try to buy one from a senior citizen who took reasonable care of it and who didn’t drive it very much. I would tend to favor domestic sixes over domestic fours, due to reliability concerns; Detroit had difficulty building a decent four-banger.

    These types of cars are fairly gutless, and hopefully their barge-like nature will induce more boredom than any driving excitement. If the kids are embarrassed to be seen in it, all the better.

    • 0 avatar
      mitchw

      please link to studies on myth of learning how to drive. I’d like to read them.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I’ve already posted an abundance of material here, complete with links. Try the search function, and you’ll find it if you’re interested.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Again, I have seen you asked to link to these “studies” and you have never done it. I would like to see these studies also.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I have seen you asked to link to these “studies” and you have never done it. I would like to see these studies also.

        Nice try. If you would simply use the search box above, you’d easily find them for yourself.

        And this is from the guy who dumped his Holden handle after I showed you that you completely blew it with your misinterpretation of Michael Karesh’s comments about Consumer Reports. Forgive me if I don’t take you too seriously.

        But since you were nice enough to ask, I’ll post several of them below. Try not to misinterpret these, too, OK?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        From “Effectiveness and role of driver education and training in a graduated licensing system.” Mayhew DR, Simpson HM, Williams AF, Ferguson SA. J Public Health Policy. 1998;19(1):51-67.

        The Problem of Overconfidence. A curriculum based on risky conditions would likely focus primarily on preventive actions-ensuring that young drivers acquire the skills and capabilities that will minimize the likelihood they will be involved in a collision. Situations will likely continue to arise, however, where young novices will have to react quickly to unanticipated events and circumstances -i.e., emergency situations. Accordingly, instruction in preventive actions could be supplemented by instruction in corrective actions-i.e., emergency maneuvers or advanced collision avoidance techniques, such as skid control, recovering from shoulder drop-off, or steps to follow if the brakes fail.

        Evaluations of the effectiveness of programs that teach advanced driving techniques have produced disappointing results, especially with respect to skid, wet surface training. Some studies have found that advanced training does not reduce the collision involvement rates of course graduates. One possible explanation for this is that situations that precipitate the need for emergency skills arise infrequently, so the requirement to deploy these skills is also infrequent. And, given that there is poor retention of skills that are used infrequently (Schneider 1985), advanced skills learned over a relatively short period of time may tend to erode and not be readily available or inappropriately applied in emergency situations one or two years later.

        But perhaps of greater importance, the results of several evaluation studies show that course graduates actually have higher collision rates than individuals who did not receive such training (Glad 1988; Katila et al. 1995). The explanation for this is that advanced skills training leads to overconfidence. Not only can overconfidence eliminate normally cautious behavior, it can result in a greater willingness to put oneself at risk -e.g., graduates of advanced skill courses will be less reluctant to drive in adverse conditions because they are confident that they can handle any eventuality.

        http://www.drivers.com/article/361/

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Virtually all educational and training programmes aimed at adults that have been evaluated show no evidence of effectiveness. Driver education or training programmes have not been found to reduce motor vehicle crashes, but they still are widely advocated as essential safety programmes. Research shows driver education programmes can increase knowledge, but this rarely results in appropriate behaviour change. Similarly, driver training programmes have not been shown to reduce crashes. They may be useful for teaching beginning drivers, and in some cases they may improve driving skills, but better skills do not automatically lead to fewer crashes. Some advanced driver training programmes have even been shown to make things worse. For example, programmes that taught skid control, off-road recovery, and other emergency measures produced drivers with higher crash rates than drivers who did not take the course. Comprehensive reviews of driver and motorcycle training programmes have found no studies showing any crash reductions due to the training. Yet blind faith in the education and training of road users continues in many quarters.

        The belief that increasing motorists’ or other road users’ knowledge or skills will produce fewer crashes reflects a naïve view of human behaviour. Most motorists and other road users acknowledge that serious risk taking and other behaviour problems are prevalent among drivers, but few people will admit that they may be part of this problem. Surveys of drivers’ self ratings of their skills show that virtually no motorists believe their own skills are below average. So motorists agree that there are many “bad” drivers, but virtually all believe that the “bad” drivers are someone else. For example, drivers in motorised countries know that ignoring stop signs and running red lights are inappropriate behaviours, yet these obviously unsafe actions are common in the United States and are leading causes of crashes. Similarly, all motorists know that driving after consuming alcohol increases the risk of crashing, but billions of trips are taken each year by alcohol impaired drivers worldwide.

        “Reducing motor vehicle crash deaths and injuries in newly motorising countries”, Brian O’Neill and Dinesh Moha, BMJ. 2002 May 11; 324(7346): 1142–1145.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123097/

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        Thank you PCH!

        And for any doubters even Jack Baruth agrees (at least in ’09)

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/editorial-the-truth-about-driver-training-and-the-myth-of-active-safety/

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The lack of evidence in favour of novice driver training is also reflected in evaluations of post-licence training provided for general drivers and traffic offenders. A seminal research study in this area examined 16 controlled studies into the effects of defensive driving courses, mainly operating in the USA (Lund & Williams, 1985). While many of the studies had design flaws, the methodologically strong evaluations showed reductions in violations, but no consistent effect on crashes. An evaluation of the Queensland Defensive Driving Course (DDC) concluded that the course did not reduce crashes among 17 – 19 year olds and that it may be harmful to this age group (Payne, Brownlea & Hall, 1984). While there was some evidence that the course was of benefit to male drivers between 20 – 39 years of age who drive as an occupation, these benefits did not exceed the cost of the program.

        In addition, there is some evidence that certain driver training programs can have a deleterious effect. In the 1980s, the Norwegian Government introduced a two-phase novice driver training program featuring training in night-time and slippery surface conditions. An evaluation found that while the night-time driving course reduced the crash risk of participants for a couple of years following the training, the slippery surface course increased their crash risk (Glad, 1988 in Lynam & Twisk, 1995). It has been suggested that courses which teach more advanced skills, such as skid control, can actually contribute to an increase in crash rates by instilling a sense of over-confidence in participants (RTA, 1995a).

        http://eprints.qut.edu.au/7295/2/7295.pdf

        “When common sense just won’t do: Misconceptions about changing the behaviour of road users,” Barry Watson, Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Skid training is a part of the driving school curricula in four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden)…However, the effects of skid training have so far been disappointing: the expected safety effects of the training have not yet been verified and there are reports of the opposite. When Norway adopted skid training as a part of driver training, the number of accidents on slippery roads increased among young (18-24 years) men (Glad 1988). In Finland, the results of skid training were partly similar. In a Finnish study (Keskinen, Hatakka, Katila and Laapotti 1992), 30,616 novice drivers answered a questionnaire about the accidents they had been involved in during the first 6 – 18 months of their driving career. A reduction in the proportion of accidents on slippery roads was found for drivers over 21 years, but like in Norway both male and female younger drivers (18-20 years), had a larger proportion of their accidents in slippery road conditions after the introduction of the skid course.

        A hypothesis has already been put forward (Glad 1988; Moe 1984) that the increase in slippery road accidents in Norway was due to an increase in drivers’ confidence in their own skills in driving in slippery road conditions. Because of their increased confidence, drivers do not avoid difficult driving conditions or they can even take on more demanding driving tasks by driving at a higher speed. To test this hypothesis among Finnish novice drivers, another questionnaire study of drivers’ confidence and fears was carried out as a part of the major follow-up study of the effects of the new driving school curriculum (n=1319). The results showed that skid training courses had increased drivers’ confidence in their own abilities to drive in slippery road conditions (Keskinen et al. 1992). Gregersen (1996) has reported similar results of young drivers’ increased confidence or “overestimation of their own skill” as a result of skill training in slippery road conditions.

        Katila A, Keskinen E, Hatakka M., “Conflicting goals of skid training.”, Accid Anal Prev. 1996 Nov;28(6):785-9.

        Abstract here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9006647

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Do you actually have any studies from this DECADE???

        I can link to studies that show smoking is good for you – that doesn’t make the research current or right.

        But congrats on linking to 10 to nearly 30 year old data on studies going back to 1984 to somehow prove a point, largely done in a handful of European countries before technology like ABS, traction control, and stability control were common place and ordinary.

        Also almost all of these studies apply SPECIFICALLY to driving under extreme winter conditions in the Norse states, hardly a condemnation of general skills improvement. As a matter of fact, in the abstracts you attached, most indicated that general skills improvement for things like night time driving or basic accident avoidance had an improvement.

        Hey, your sources.

        Oh, and you think I changed my screen name because of you?!? Oh I’m very flattered, blushing actually, but no it had zero to do with you. But please, you go ahead and tell yourself that – love you too honey. Nite nite!

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        But congrats on linking to 10 to nearly 30 year old data on studies going back to 1984 to somehow prove a point

        It’s as if you have a compulsive need to flaunt your ignorance on the internet.

        This may shock you, but the same studies don’t need to be replicated every few months in order to be valid. While I can appreciate that someone lacking knowledge of anything vaguely scientific (yes, that would be you) might want to believe that, your claim just provides yet another example of your failure to know what you’re talking about.

        But hey, since you asked…

        One limitation with on-the-road training programs is that the primary focus is on skill; yet skill as measured by on-the-road tests has never been shown to be correlated with driver crash rates. In contrast, there have been numerous studies documenting the highly significant role of attitudinal and lifestyle factors in the high crash rate of young drivers. The role of attitudes was further documented in the DeKalb study, which found that the Mann driver attitude inventory was a much stronger predictor of crash rates than were road tests. This raises the difficult question of how to change the attitudinal and maturational factors underlying risky driving behavior through classroom and on-the-road training. It is difficult to see how simply requiring more hours of on-the-road training addresses the underlying problem.

        Raymond C. Peck, “Do driver training programs reduce crashes and traffic violations? — A critical examination of the literature”, International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences, 2011.

        http://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=1107374

      • 0 avatar
        The Walking Eye

        Do driver training programs reduce crashes and traffic violations? – A critical examination of the literature
        Peck, Raymond C. Source: IATSS Research, v 34, n 2, p 63-71, March 2011

        Abstract
        “This paper reviews the evaluation literature on the effectiveness of classroom and behind-the-wheel driver training. The primary focus is on North America programs as originally taught in high schools but now also by private instructors. Studies from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia are also included.
        By far the most rigorous study to date was the experimental study in DeKalb, Georgia, U.S.A. This study used a randomized design including a control group and a very large sample size to provide reasonable statistical precision. I reexamine the DeKalb data in detail and conclude that the study did show evidence of small short-term crash and violation reductions per licensed driver. However, when the accelerated licensure caused by the training is allowed to influence the crash and violation counts, there is evidence of a net increase in crashes.
        The other studies reviewed present a mixed picture but the better designed quasi-experimental evaluations usually showed no effects on crash rates but almost all suffer from inadequate sample size. I show that as many as 35,000 drivers would be required in a two group design to reliably detect a 10% reduction in crash rates.
        The advent of GDL laws in North America and other countries has largely remedied the concern over accelerated licensure of high risk teenage drivers by delaying the progress to full licensure. Conventional driver training programs in the U.S. (30 h classroom and 6 h on-the-road) probably reduce per licensed driver crash rates by as little as 5% over the first 6–12 months of driving. The possibility of an effect closer to 0 cannot be dismissed.
        Some GDLs contain an incentive for applicants to complete an advanced driver training program in return for shortening the provisional period of the GDL. The results of Canadian studies indicate that any effects of the driver training component are not sufficient to offset the increase in accidents due to increased exposure.
        There is no evidence or reason to believe that merely lengthening the number of hours on the road will increase effectiveness. Programs directed toward attitude change and risk taking better address the underlying cause of the elevated crash risk of young drivers but these behaviors are notoriously resistant to modification in young people.”

        Pch101 is not arguing that driver training makes you a bad driver but that it doesn’t help in lowering the accident rate. And that’s what all the literature continues to say. It’s not the training on how to operate a car better but the attitude of the driver that matters.

        A Finnish study found no statistical link to increased risk behavior with a recent renewal of their state driver training, with their hypothesis that there’d be one. The same paper also said that the accident rate didn’t decrease but their goal of seeing no more increase was met. This was published in 2010.

        It seems to defy common sense, but science backs it up.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Pch101 is not arguing that driver training makes you a bad driver

        Well, to be fair, I’m not arguing anything. I’m just the messenger, not the one doing the research.

        And the research does say that track training actually does produce worse drivers, most likely because of the resulting overconfidence problem.

        The average car enthusiast wants to believe that street driving is a complicated skill that requires intense study. The reality is pretty much the opposite; the skills required to steer and accelerate a car are minimal, and crash rates are linked to attitudes, not a lack of skills.

        Accident rates are lower among those drivers who take fewer risks. Track and skidpad training encourage more risk taking, so these have the opposite effect of what they should. The last thing that we need is for drivers to be testing the limits of their cars on public roads.

    • 0 avatar
      mitchw

      Is this the kind of link you’ve posted?

      http://www.driveandstayalive.com/articles%20and%20topics/driving-myths-and-mistakes/skid-pan-training.htm

      this piece argues that it’s attitude that needs to be kept in check despite any performance training. In the case of this article, a bit of skidpad training is found to lead to more accidents, presumably due to meagre skills development and over confidence. It does not argue that a sense of caution is not developed in a course. More, kids already have over confidence. Personally, I started driving slower after a course, but increased my margin of safety.

      I haven’t been able to find your posts either searching on TTAC or on Google. Help a friend, let me see what the article you posted are arguing.

      • 0 avatar
        mitchw

        Pch101, thank you indeed for finding and posting these study excerpts. Since these studies are over a decade old or are taken from newly motorizing countries, I wonder if all courses are ruled out today. My own experience has made me much more aware of risks and limits, and I practice proper eye control all the time when driving. While I see that many course graduates will become overconfident, for me skill and humility have come together. Thanks for your posts.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      As the owner of a 2001 Buick Lesabre with the 3800 (complete with crappy plastic upper intake manifold that must be dealt with, the only downfall of the drivetrain), I’d hardly characterize the car as “fairly gutless”.

      It’s all relative, I know, but last time I took a road trip in it and passed somebody on a 2-lane road, I couldn’t believe how quickly I had obtained almost triple-digit speeds starting from 55mph.

      The other downside of this car is that it is large AND you have no idea where it begins nor ends. I actually removed the factory Onstar cell phone antenna from my back window and attached it to a bracket mounted behind my license plate. The top of the antenna sticks up a few inches above my sightline out the rear to show me where the back edge of the rear of the car is.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        As a former owner of a GM W-Body with the Gen III 3.8 I have to agree. Because of the way the tranny is geared, and the amount of torque the 3.8 produces over a very usable band, highway passing power is really surprising. These cars don’t even need a 4th gear – they can hit their computer controlled 108 MPH in third with room to spare (the LS4 powered Grand Prix GXP could tickle 100 MPH in second gear). The tall gears with a very wide torque band means a lot of go go passing power. Throw the throttle down at 60 MPH in a W-body 3.8 sled and 108 MPH comes shockingly fast.

        At the end of the day for close to two tons and only 200 HP, 0 to 60 in 8.0 and the 1/4 mile in around 15.7 (in capable hands) aren’t going to win any prizes, but that isn’t Prius grade numbers either.

        They have a rather faithful tuner following for a reason.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        @redmondjp:

        Do you have the 3.05 rear end?

        The UIM problem on the L36 is really easy to fix, however fixing the LIM gaskets and coolant elbows are a bit of a hassle. Still better than working on head gaskets and most timing belts though.

  • avatar

    I had a ’75 Land Rover. Hoonage impossible, no?

    No. I 360′d it.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Make sure it has bucket seats and a center console and a small back seat. Less likely to offer opportunity if you get my drift.

    BTW- do they still have drive in movies these days?

  • avatar
    spyked

    For teens, the bigger the better. My first car was a Volvo 240 4 speed manual with terry cloth interior. I miss that car everyday of my life some 20 years later :(

    I think the Taurus and Intrigue are good candidates. As everyone else has said, you want something well maintained, not necessarily popular. All cars are reliable these days if you take care of them.

    Let your kid help you, have them pop the hood and test drive, then quiz them. When they get the answers right (and you approve of the car), that might be the one.

    I’d say a Hyundai Elantra from 2001-2005 would be a good candidate. Lots of standard airbags, not fast, not roomy, and cheap to maintain.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Without getting into specific models, a good way to narrow down the choices is to look at Consumer Reports car ratings and look for models with better than average reliability coupled with worse than average depreciation. This assumes that you’ll keep this car around for a while, handing it down from child to child as long as possible. Don’t worry about whether the car will hold its value, you’ll squeeze all the life out of it before you’re done. Make sure that the final choice has a decent safety rating and a good compliment of airbags, and the less cool the car is, the better.

    As to detering hooning, I would seriously consider adding a monitoring device:
    http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/how-to-keep-tabs-on-your-teen-driver.html

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      And when your kid finds this he/she will realize that you have zero trust in them. Your relationship will suffer immeasurably. If your kid had past problems and promised to “do better”, I could see going the monitoring route, but not right out of the box.

  • avatar
    SWComp

    Impala.

    There’s lots of them out there to choose from.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    The kid can have a Vulcan 6 Taurus, I’ll take the OSV Intrigue!

  • avatar
    George B

    Look for a well maintained but ugly old person’s car like a Buick. If it’s really undesirable it will probably be less expensive to buy. Safer too because their friends will refuse to be seen riding in it.

    A creative parent could get the grandparent’s help accessorizing it to enhance the old person car image. 15 inch steel wheels with a new set of narrow tires and the General’s finest wire and chrome plated plastic wheel covers. Ugly seat covers. A sound system that only plays AM talk radio. A couple bumper stickers from Branson. Check out your local Luby’s cafeteria or equivalent for ideas.

  • avatar
    StevenJJ

    Pretty much a waste of time IMO.

    If the lad wants to wind it up he is going to, whatever the car is.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    A Volvo 940 non-turbo. Slow, safe as a house even without 25 airbags. And so deeply unsexy that your kids will never, ever get laid in it. A nice one will cost less than $2K even in these ridiculous times, and maintenance is cheaper than dirt. Hell, they go forever with NO maintenance. having owned several, 200K is just about broken in.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    You spelled Teenage Horny wrong.

  • avatar

    A friend of mine (20, just finished community college) just bought a 2002 Intrigue, absolutely loaded, mint, with about 90,000 miles on it. It has the Shortstar, and he paid $4,000 for it (this in Canada’s cheaper used car market, I should note.) He’s enjoyed it so far.

    I also concur with the Volvo 940 recommendation. I did most of my teenage driving on a high mileage Saab 9000 (non-turbo, automatic, and lovingly reviewed here: http://studentwheels.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/saab9000/), which suited the bill pretty well too. Safe, roomy, clean handling but not really sporty enough in base trim to encourage any F1 re-enactments. So, that might be one worth considering, along with the Volvo.

    Another thought: what about a Mazda 626? There’s a reasonably good Japanese family sedan that commands a more reasonable price used than a Camcord. In my area, you can get a 2000-ish 626 with less than 60,000 miles for under four grand.

    A final note. Having a slow, boring car won’t completely discourage any teenager from driving like a moron. I closed out my last summer before college by spinning a four-cylinder Saturn L-Series wagon off of a country road in a manner thoroughly consistent with what society expects from 18 year old males. Wisdom set in pretty quickly after that.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Poor crash test results for the 626 and Mazda 6 in these price ranges.

    • 0 avatar
      kid cassady

      That review was great, amripley! I would also recommend the 9000 to my kids, although ten or twenty years from now it’ll be tough as nails to find a good one.

      Just to note: the NA engine had a meager 130 hp. If you were impressed with the torque of that 9000 CS, you would go insane behind the wheel of an Aero.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks! My parents now have a 2005 9-5 Arc, which does have a fair bit more get-up and go. I think one of the reasons I found the 9000 so capable is because the other car in the family during my high school years was the aforementioned, ill-fated Saturn. It wasn’t a quick car.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Buy this Taurus wagon with 19,000 original miles and it can double as the family truckster.

    Link: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2001-MERCURY-SABLE-WAGON-ABSOLUTELY-STUNNING-CLEAN-/230660871337?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item35b47594a9

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Chevy Cavalier/Pontiac Sunfire.
    Cheap, cheerful, 4 doors, 4 pot engine, and not very quick. Parts are cheap and plentiful due to them being the ‘Cockroach of the road™’.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      Just make sure you go with a four door. You can split a two door Cavi in two with a nasty look. (not really but the car is horrible in side impacts)

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Mazder3: Yes, if you’re looking for one in rust country, stick to the four doors. They are much more rust resistant. The coupes get better after about 2003, before that, inspect carefully.

        Again, correct about side impacts. I love the little buggers, but I pray God not to take one at the juncture of the door and front fender…

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Hey, thanks for using my phrase ;^) I would agree that the 2.2 or 2200 motors are not quick. But the later Ecotec powered ones are a bit quicker than you’d imagine. Ask me how I know.

      Also, the ones built since 2003 have much better rustproofing and interiors. Again, ask me how I know.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        Hehe – no problem – hence I used the ™!
        I don’t doubt that a manual Ecotec powered Cavalier can move pretty well if given an enthusiastic driver and judicious use of right foot – I did after all grow up in a land where 2.0′s and 2.2′s are considered ‘big’ engines (England). I currently drive the Cavalier’s descendant (Cobalt), and given the right bendy road I can be quicker than pretty much anyone else on it.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Sinister: Thanks for acknowledgement! It’s kind of a weird thing to be known for, but at least it’s not something awful. Besides, there are many cockroaches of the road, the Coby possibly being the next one.

        Speaking of, the Cobalt was supposed to address all of the Cavalier’s sins, most of which it did. They can be hooned pretty effectively, especially with the Ecotec…

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    There is a flying truism:

    “There are old pilots, and
    there are bold pilots, but
    there are no old bold pilots!”

  • avatar
    Hoser

    I can 2nd the Vulcan Taurus recommendation. I’ve never had an issue with my Duratecs, but the Vulcans are less power, so the best choice here.

    The Intrigue I rented with the 3.8 tops my list of the best cars I’ve had as rentals. I’m usually pretty pro-Ford, anti-GM, so saying I liked the Intrigue is high praise. It’s too hoonable with the 3.8 though. Maybe with some less power it would be a good choice.

    Late A-bodies (Century/Cutlass Ciera) would be a good choice too. A little troublesome at first, but after building them for 20 years, the kinks got ironed out pretty well.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    In my experience, the teenagers who are the safest drivers are the ones who are car enthusiasts with a taste for old malaise era land barges, slant six Darts and the like, especially if they have put some of their own sweat into the car. Of course, this only works if you have such a kid, and you’re willing to feed gas into a ’76 LeSabre.

  • avatar
    OmarCCXR

    Mazda 6i could be found between that budget. They’re not slow, but they aren’t too peppy either.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    A friend of mine just helped his youngest get into a 2003 Taurus with the Vulcan V6. It had slight damage on the passenger front fender and headlight assembly. 175,000 miles, $2100. Can’t beat that deal. Getting the A/C sorted out this weekend, it’ll be good to go for the first week of Community College…

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to reply so far. This is new territory for me, as I usually buy a car just after it has been leased and run it into the ground myself. I am definitely thinking about another W-body to follow up the 2000 grand prix my wife had when we got married (for those of you doing the math at home, the car in question would not be for our biological child). If anything, that car was too fast- were w bodies with the 3.1 common, and was the reliability notably good/ bad?

    For what it’s worth, all the kids are girls. Seeing as how i live on the west coast of florida, there should be plenty of low mileage buicks and oldsmobiles looking for a home. The vulcan-powered taurus is a great contender as well, but it would have to be the 4th gen, as the pre-2000 model is far too ugly to live in my driveway. I also cant imagine the j- body GMs hold up in a crash so that’s out. It seems like the key to this process is a good independent mechanic. Anybody know one in clearwater?

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      Perhaps a Buick Century would be a good choice. They’re geared for economy and they all had 3.1s.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        Car Ramrod,

        Funny you should ask about the 3.1L and mazda3 mentions Buick Century……That is one on my cars, 2002 Century, 102,000 miles. It is in the shop as we speak having a used trans installed. I give you a little history of the car:

        Bought it in 2007(for $6500) from a lady(it was actually her mothers car) in NJ who had bought it for her 17 year old daughter. Daughter drove it for 6 months and it was so uncool I guess that she whined enough that mommy upgraded her to a 2005 Explorer.

        Car had 45,000 miles when I bought it, body and interior pristine. I’ve loved the car, I don’t mind the floaty ride and lack of power. It gets 30-32mpg on cross country trips. It hasn’t been trouble free however; radiator(trans coolant line in lower tank rotted out), heater core, electrical gremlins and now the famous 4T65E trans hard shift problem. All in all though for what I paid in 2007 it was a decent value even considering the money I’ve put into repairs over the years. I plan on selling it in the next few weeks after the trans is done. Body and interior are still excellent and with 102,000 miles I think I can get $4,000-$4,500…..My net cost to own over 4 years should be around $100/month maybe less.

        Good luck in your car search.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        @56BelAire

        Thanks for jogging my memory! My grandmother briefly owned a ’98 Century. It replaced her Acclaim-based LeBaron. The darn thing was so gutless and wishy-washy (a ship lost at sea…) she traded it in after nine months for a ’98 2.5 V6 Cirrus LXI that seemed like a rocket ship in comparison (0-60 9.3 1/4 mi 17.2, C/D, IIRC). So, Car Ramrod, if you’re searching for an unhoonable vehicular representation of celibacy, the W-body Century should be the way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      3400′s had intake manifold issues, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be dealt with. I’d just get someone to look it over before buying. My father-in-law had a 2001 Impala with a 3400. Adequate acceleration, nothing too peppy.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I’d go newer, 2004 and above with the Series III 3.8L V6. The late 90′s to early 00′s W-bodies had all sort of intake manifold gasket issues. These issues were addressed in the Series III engine.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Hypnotoad: Series I: OK. Series III: OK. Series II: stuck in the same hell as the 60 degree V6 with the gasket issues. The issues are not insurmountable, but if you’re looking on the cheap, I’d stay away unless someone could produce receipts showing the work was completed.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        We’re in agreement – this is why I recommend stay away from a 2000ish W-Body because of the Series II intake manifold gasket and Dexcool issues.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The one plus to the Taurus is that there were more made so if you need to head to the wrecking yard for a bumper cover, fender, grille or something along those lines there will likely be better pickings if you are lucky you can even find one the right color and avoid the body shop all together.

      To find a good local independent mechanic you first need to find the local Napa or Carquest that makes it’s money from the wholesale counter. They are usually the ones that don’t stay open as late and have multiple delivery vehicles. The vehicles may be un marked but if you see vehicles that are always parked there overnight you’ve found the right place. Then ask them who the best is or where they take their delivery vehicles for repairs. Ask the delivery drivers too.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    No disrespect intended for Evan, but I will never understand the fascination with resale value, a car is a highly depreciable asset no matter what make/model you buy. The idea is to use it until no value is left. This is especially true (and easy) in a $5-7k car, by the time the young man is done with it in all likelihood it will be worth nothing more than the thousand dollar minimum trade-in so do not concern yourself with whether or not it holds its value well.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I agree particularly when you are talking about used cars in the 5K range you want a car that has “low resale” value. That means you can get a newer and/or lower mile car for the same amount of money. The only time you should really be concerned with resale value is when buying a new car. Even then you need to be careful and pay attention to actual real world pricing. Toyota and Honda earned their reputation for high resale values is because they used to often add that ADP or market adjustment sticker. So when compared to MSRP they appeared to retain more of their value.

      At this price range the more important factors in keeping the cost of ownership low are the cash outlay items like insurance, maintenance and repairs. That is where the W bodies and Taurus shine. Insurance is cheap because they are not targets for theft, the have “low” resale values and parts to repair body damage are cheap and highly available because they fit many years. That fits many years also means that those maintenance and repair items like brakes, starters, alternators are cheap and in-stock too. They also don’t have timing belts like some of those cars with “high” resale values meaning you don’t end up with a $400-$600 or even more for maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      @Joe, I appreciate your comment. Perhaps I didn’t phrase my question correctly. I am looking for something with bad resale in order to get into the newest vehicle with the lowest mileage I can. You’re right, the car is likely to be damaged or worthless when we’re done with it, so I’m not concerned with the dollar value on the way out.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I will never understand the fascination with resale value

      If your car gets totaled and you’re haggling over the size of the payout, then it will become quite clear.

      In any case, consumers vote with their money, and rapid depreciation is a sign that a car has lost the consumer election. If a used car model suffers from rapid depreciation, then you should wonder what’s wrong with it. If it turns out that there is nothing wrong with it, then you may have found something that represents a unique value.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes if you are buying a new car then I could maybe see an issue, but of course how much of that was eaten up by the higher insurance premiums? When you get to cars in this price range the depreciation curves get pretty flat so the year to year hit is going to start coming closer and closer. So if you buy a 5K Honda or Toyota and wreck it after a year the insurance payout will be similar to that of a Ford or GM that you payed 5K for. But the Honda or Toyota will be more likely to be totaled since repair costs are higher due to the higher parts prices.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Late 90s/early 00s Nissan Sentra/Altima.

    Boring as hell, reliable as a top, no Toyonda premium.

    When I have kids, I hope to live near a track + have a little track car so we can take out all our automotive aggression off of public roads. I think the only way to really keep a kid out of car trouble is to help them separate where they can and can’t go crazy. Let em see how a car is at its limits and how dangerous losing it on the street can be. Etc….

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I don’t know if that is good advice in non-SMOG check states, but stay far away from said Nissans in states with California emissions regimes! An ex-gf of mine has a 2003 Sentra that would cost a fortune to keep smogged, and multiple shops, parts stores, and Nissan dealers have confirmed that ‘they all do that.’ There are aftermarket emissions parts that fail on all these junkers, like the integrated exhaust manifold catalytic converter($1,200 + labor), but in California you can ONLY use the factory part. There are good reasons why Nissans don’t carry ‘Toyonda premiums.’ For one thing, they aren’t works of premium engineering or made with premium materials.

  • avatar
    truffle_shuffle_steer

    There is only one possible car that will make everyone in this situation happy. An old jeep wrangler (or possibly a cherokee). Other than gas mileage, they’ve got it all. They’re safe (great roll over protection!), slow (especially the 4 cyl wranglers!!!!) AND your kids won’t hate them. The biggest safety factor possible with a highschooler? Them liking the car. Buy your kids a car they won’t hate and they’ll be careful with it. Buy a car they do hate and they’ll drive it like they want to kill it.

    Problem solved

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      Funny that you mentioned the wrangler- my first car was a 4-cylinder YJ, and it’s still in the family. Althoughthe girls loved looking at it back then, they did NOT enjoy riding in it. At least one girl at my high school subsequently got one, then traded it in within 6 months.

  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    Volvo 740/940, ’91-’95. Sedan if they’re likely to be promiscuous; wagon if they aren’t and you intend for them to move away from home and take their stuff with ‘em. Non-turbo for a first car. Low-mid 20s for fuel economy if they don’t drive like idiots; not enough power to get into real trouble, but rear-drive so they’ll learn car control. Automatic, though, universally – a shame, ‘cos that makes it easier to drive distracted. Maintenance isn’t too much of a concern; even a failed timing belt is just a timing belt because the 8v (non-GLE) models are non-interference. You can find well-kept examples for $1500-$2000 all day around New England; I’m not sure how the situation is elsewhere.

    Also, Top Gear agrees. That has to be worth something.

  • avatar
    50merc

    May I remind everyone that safety is the main objective? Accordingly, I’d urge buying a car that has side airbags. It is the best indicator of side-impact protection.

    Last week I met a fellow who’d been in the passenger seat of a Jag XJ-S when another vehicle ran a red light and T-boned the Jag on the passenger side. That poor fellow is still alive only because a helicopter got him to a top-tier trauma center in time. There’s hardly a body part above the waist that isn’t messed up, some permanently. After talking to him I told myself, “I think I’ll get a car with side airbags; ideally, with curtain bags as well as torso-level side bags.” And when I drive my Model A, I’m VERY careful.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    When our daughter was thirteen or so, I started her out slowly on gravel back roads where there was nearly no traffic at all, in the 5-speed Accord we had at the time. Gradually increased times behind the wheel in number and duration, always staying on non-trafficked roads (there are a lot of those around here). Once she got to drive for 20 miles on a gravel road so far back in the weeds that we only saw two other cars on the whole trip. The whole idea was to make her familiar and comfortable with driving the car, so that when she got the learner’s permit and took driving class she would be able to pay more attention to other drivers and not also have to worry about the driving itself being unfamiliar. This strategy worked well for us…she’s always been a good driver and put in a few years driving an ambulance as an emt. Of course this method isn’t available to those who live in urban areas….

    Her first car was a 10-year-old 1984 RX-7. It had good previous owners and we actually still have it. We found that she didn’t end up driving a lot of her friends around, although more than once we saw someone lying behind the seats. We had so many hassles insuring her in it that we started looking for a Civic…found a nice 4-door that we were ready to buy but she found a red ’91 hatchback with mags, tinted windows, and a cd player. That ended up being her 50,000 mile car, serving her until well after she’d moved out. By great good luck one of her early boyfriends was a detail guy for one of the dealers here and taught her how to detail a car. That insured that her well-worn Civic got a good price when she traded it.

    I think basically that the specific car your kid gets doesn’t really matter that much. What matters most is the child’s attitude toward life, toward driving, his or her propensity to keep a clear head.

  • avatar

    I bought a 2005 Sebring with the 2.7l back in 2006 with 52k on the clock. Most reliable car I have ever owned. It now has 143,000 and I have only fixed a coolant inlet that was cracked. Most of the sludge problems with that engine were early on. Just be diligent with oil changes every 3-5k and it will run just fine as a first car…. quite quick though for a teenager’s car. But so was my hand-me-down Olds Ciera when I was in high school and I turned out alright.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    mitchw said:

    ‘The simple lesson of practicing looking where you want to go rather than where you are going, is a life saver.’

    I did not know that trick ’till i read it hear a few years ago. I got into a bit of trouble hooning my Volvo 940 wagon (the old saw about more fun to drive a slow car fast) and gee, the trick worked!

    Would I have drawn upon 35 years of driving experience to figure out some other way to get out of trouble? Likely so, however that trick worked well.

    When I was a young kid I neither had the skills, such as they are that I have developed in 35 years of driving nor, absent someone telling me, have known to look where I wanted to go rather then where the vehicle was careering to.

    Kids, no matter their age will take risks because they are fun. Providing those kids, no matter their age, knowledge about how to handle the results those risks bring is to my way of thinking a very good idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Providing those kids, no matter their age, knowledge about how to handle the results those risks bring is to my way of thinking a very good idea.

      Unfortunately, we have 40+ years worth of research that says the opposite. Studies consistently show that advanced driver training generally has no effect or makes things worse.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr. K

        Pch101 said:

        “Unfortunately, we have 40+ years worth of research that says the opposite. Studies consistently show that advanced driver training generally has no effect or makes things worse.”

        I would find links to current examples of such studies to be useful. Please post when you have a chance.

        Thanks

        “Pch101
        July 3rd, 2009 at 12:44 pm

        I need you to offer some facts to back up your claims

        I could say the same of you.

        Elsewhere on this site, I have posted examples of academic studies on this subject. You may find them if you look.”

        Note the year.

        Who pays you, Pch?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I would find links to such studies to be useful.

        You are kidding, right? Did you read this thread?

        Note the year.

        I do hope that isn’t supposed to be some sort of rebuttal to the research. Because it isn’t.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I like the Altima idea the best. I am not an Oldsmobile fan, I wouldn’t trust the reliability of an old clapped-out GM sedan.

    It might be better just to upgrade your own car and give the kid your old one.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      The altima is definitely a contender. My wife’s car is getting close to the replacement point, but i can’t see giving a teenage girl a Honda Pilot. I’ve never owned a gm or ford, but then again i havent shopped for a car at this price point since Chrysler made vehicles worth owning.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    Pch101
    August 21st, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I would find links to such studies to be useful.

    You are kidding, right? Did you read this thread?

    Note the year.

    I do hope that isn’t supposed to be some sort of rebuttal to the research. Because it isn’t.

    You have been singing the same tune for years. Thats the point.

    Lets say someone wants to race a car. Is learning how to get control back when it’s lost as on a skid pad exercise going to be useful, or do those who crash win?

    Lets see studies not based upon information from the 1970′s and 1980′s not based upon results in different places.

    Studies based upon modern cars with tires that outperform those on the finest race cars 40 years ago, brakes that stop better then most anything on the road in 1980 are standard today. ABS allowing panic stops to have the useful feature of steering inputs having an effect and in many cases skid control keeping skids from even starting.

    Take modern cars and stir in skilled v unskilled drivers. That would be an interesting mix.

    The first key to winning a race is to finish. Those who crash do not finish!

    Whats next, a series of studies showing that untrained race drivers have a poorer record of wins then untrained drivers?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You have been singing the same tune for years.

      Yes, I’ve been reading the academic research for years. You should give it a try, instead of believing myths that are woefully inaccurate.

      Lets see studies not based upon information from the 1970′s and 1980′s not based upon results in different places.

      Er, you might actually look at some of this stuff above and elsewhere. One of them was even published five months ago.

      And you might want to note that skidpad training and human nature have not significantly changed in the last few decades. Since accidents aren’t caused by skills deficiencies, giving drivers more skills accomplishes nothing, and can even cause harm.

      Whats next, a series of studies showing that untrained race drivers have a poorer record of wins then untrained drivers?

      If you believe that driving on a track is equivalent to driving on a street, then you need to change your driving style.

      And interestingly enough, a survey conducted of SCCA drivers during the 70s showed that they were more likely to crash than the average driver. Racing is good for developing cars, but a rather poor way to train drivers to avoid crashes.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave W

      I have to agree with PCH101 on this one. My brothers skill at handling a car is far superior to my meager ability. Look at our autocross times and it’s hard to believe we learned to drive with the same teachers, using the same car (admittedly it was 4 years older by the time I got it).
      Look at our lists of “accidents” and tickets (him lots, me none) and you might think the same thing.
      I feel his biggest issue is he seems to think that the other drivers are as quick and skilled as he is, and forgets most of us aren’t. Add in all the other variables of off track conditions and drivers and it’s a wonder that the only time anyone was seriously hurt the 4 times he has been in a totaled car was the one time he was a passenger.
      Racing is kind of a red herring. Yes a skilled driver is more likely to win then an unskilled one, but is also more likely to have a history of bent cars on the way to building those skills. Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement. On the track judgement boils down to “Am I going as fast as I can possibly hold it together” as many of the variables of road and car conditions are limited, as well as knowing those around you are not going to be totally unpredictable.
      On the road judgement is a bit more nuanced as hopefully speed is well down the list, although having an accident (or being pulled over), will definitely slow you down.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    I agree about the W bodies – by now that have had the 3.1m and 3.4 intakes replaced – the 3.8′s have much less trouble with intakes and are much less costly to repair. The cars are good – another GM weak point besides the intakes and the i-shaft is the front wheel bearing/hub assy – a killer expensive repair!

    Tauri are very good save for the famous lousy Ford slushbox.

    Look for ~ 1000 tops ya fix a GM and for ~2000 ya fix a ford. Both are good safe cars.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    Dave W sAID:

    I have to agree with PCH101 on this one. My brothers skill at handling a car is far superior to my meager ability. Look at our autocross times and it’s hard to believe we learned to drive with the same teachers, using the same car (admittedly it was 4 years older by the time I got it).

    ==================================================
    So you both went to some sort of driving school
    ==================================================

    Look at our lists of “accidents” and tickets (him lots, me none) and you might think the same thing.
    I feel his biggest issue is he seems to think that the other drivers are as quick and skilled as he is, and forgets most of us aren’t. Add in all the other variables of off track conditions and drivers and it’s a wonder that the only time anyone was seriously hurt the 4 times he has been in a totaled car was the one time he was a passenger.

    ===================================================================
    But the question is not does driving school make one a good driver per sey, but whether driving school makes on a better driver then one was to start with.
    ===================================================================

    Racing is kind of a red herring. Yes a skilled driver is more likely to win then an unskilled one, but is also more likely to have a history of bent cars on the way to building those skills. Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement. On the track judgement boils down to “Am I going as fast as I can possibly hold it together” as many of the variables of road and car conditions are limited, as well as knowing those around you are not going to be totally unpredictable.

    ==================================================================
    And driving school tends to make racing drivers better, unless your argument is that driving school not only does not help street drivers, but also fails to help track drivers.

    I think such an argument is clearly silly.

    In every sport, in every endeavor from representing a client to managing subordinates, to skillfully making love experience surely is a big factor, but so is learning in various ways from others engaged in such practices – reading a book, hiring a coach, going to driving school people seek assistance.

    Practice is a big part as well, so knowing what a skidding car will do and having a skilled coach to explain the dynamics and how various control inputs will change the speed, direction and controlability of a vehicle can only help in future driving.

    Would one argue that Jeep or Land Rover school will make one more likely to get stuck?

    ==================================================================

    On the road judgement is a bit more nuanced as hopefully speed is well down the list, although having an accident (or being pulled over), will definitely slow you down.

    ====================================================================
    Judgement is learned by watching other drivers as kids, by having opportunities to drive jr cars like go carts, mini bikes, and supervised driving such as being allowed to reach over from the passenger seat and steer, or actual left seat time on private property.

    Clearly, judgement is also taught,sometimes in a harsh fashion at the school of hard knocks.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave W

      So you both went to some sort of driving school
      ==================================================

      Actually no formal track or on road driving school for either of us. All things being mostly equal his greater technical fluency in a car DOES NOT MAKE HIM A SAFER DRIVER IN THE REAL WORLD.

      ===================================================================
      But the question is not does driving school make one a good driver per sey, but whether driving school makes on a better driver then one was to start with.
      ===================================================================

      A good instructor will help one make the most of ones abilities and thought processes. The problem is if your thought processes are all focused on hoonery, being a faster hoon is more likely make the consequences of mistakes (of judgment or skills) that much greater.
      ===================================================================
      And driving school tends to make racing drivers better,…….
      Would one argue that Jeep or Land Rover school will make one more likely to get stuck?
      ==================================================================

      As a Ski instructor I have to say that there is no question that a good instructor will improve technical skills. I also agree that it is as important on the street as on the track to know how and why a car will respond to control inputs, BUT as Pch101 has been saying its not about having a higher skill level, rather it’s about using those skills at the appropriate time in an appropriate manner. Teaching someone the perfect drifting skills may make driving on icy roads safer, unless you start to think you can quickly and safely drift around that stalled car before the person making a left turn at the cross street ahead gets there. Of course if he has the same general idea about how much time it will take for the oncoming car to pick its way past the stalled traffic as he punches it to get the back end around quickly, it gets ugly fast

      A flight instructor once told me “A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid having to use his superior skills”.

      A long time off roader insists that better drivers in better vehicles mostly get stuck better, farther away. (OK this was after he spent 3 days getting unstuck from the snow covered slash pile filling a chasm beside a logging road.)

      ====================================================================
      Judgement is learned………judgement is also taught,….
      =====================================================================

      Agreed. However it seems a fairly small percentage of people get a useful amount of practice before getting into the left seat. And if you have the risk taking personality to start with some lessons take harsher knocks before they start to sink in. Again using my brother we both totaled a couple of bicycles growing up. While I seemed to have learned that I can’t account for everything so don’t live on the edge outside a controlled environment, He seems to have figured it didn’t kill him so next time he could try a little faster.

      Another anecdotal tidbit involving my brother. As a professional skier I have spent 100+ days on skis every season for the last 30 years. I have somewhat routinely been clocked around 60 MPH on skis and yet I haven’t missed a day of skiing due to injury in that time. My brother had his first serious ski injury back when he was a better skier then I. Since then he has become a better skier then he was but no longer better then me. He continues to have serious ski injuries every 6 years or so. I will freely admit that my less painful record is in part due to luck and you could say our records show that continual improvement in skills reduces risk, and in my case I think it has. In his case what I see is, he was, is, and probably always will be an aggressive skier, sailor, driver, etc. and no amount of physical skill will make up for poor choices of where to exercise his technical command of his ride.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    But the question is not does driving school make one a good driver per sey, but whether driving school makes on a better driver then one was to start with.

    That isn’t the issue at all. Accidents aren’t caused by a lack of technical skills. Therefore, acquiring more technical skills doesn’t help to prevent accidents.

    This belief that skidpad training is necessary for safe street driving is akin to claiming that one can’t walk safely down the street without first becoming an Olympic athlete. There is a difference between the skills need to drive quickly under controlled conditions, and what behaviors are needed to drive safely on a public street in a situation that isn’t supposed to be a competition.

    What’s ironic is that all of you folks who bang on about the alleged benefits of education are utterly incapable of learning anything from the studies linked on this thread. If education spoon-fed to you here can’t help to figure out what causes accidents or how to avoid them, then I don’t have much hope that any other form of education is going to help you, either.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I became a safer driver as I became more calm and patient, and also as I learned to increase my distance from other vehicles as much as possible. I’ve always been attentive behind the wheel but also very aggressive. The high performance driving school I attended for four days? That just made me more confident at driving at the limit, which I do more regularly now. I doubt I’m less safe after the course, but I also doubt that I’m more safe. I do have more fun driving now, and the course itself was the most fun I’ve had in my adult life. Don’t even think about not doing the extra day with the Formula Mazda Race Cars!

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I agree with Pch 101. Driver education (learning how to see ahead and around you, learning to predict how other drivers will behave, avoiding potentially dangerous situations or driving hazards–e.g., blindspots, distracted drivers, semis, and so on) is far more important for driver safety than advanced driver training.

    Jack’s article above is a good example of that (including Rocketrodea’s excellent comments).


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States