The Truth About Cars » teenager The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:16:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » teenager Piston Slap: Permission for a Mustang, please? Mon, 17 Sep 2012 11:19:09 +0000

Robert writes:

First of all, thank you for all the fantastic articles. TTAC is one of only a few daily sites I visit that always successfully generates that “second click” to read an entire article, and unlike any of the technology sites I follow, I’m always delighted in reading and learning from the comments section that follows.

That said, are you regretting your call for articles yet? I can only imagine the volume such a request must generate. Just to add to the noise and hopefully gain some insights here’s mine:

In a few months it will become time to purchase a first car for a teenager. In suburban America, not having a car isn’t really much of an option and fife circumstances are such that borrowing the family car regularly isn’t going to work. So while I appreciate the financial benefits of holding off on a car purchase, and we’ll be talking about whether or not he really needs a car once he goes to college, the practical reality is that I’m happy to take the financial hit in order to give him the leg up on being able to get a good after school and summer job.

He’s a good kid, and when probed his wish list is pretty simple…inexpensive to maintain and drive, holds a fair bit of stuff, looks good. I add in “safe”. There’s no shortage of cars that meet those qualifications, but it’s my right as a dad to also want him to have something “cool”. So he’s not getting anything European. He’s also not getting an econo-box snooze fest because, well because I said so.

In my misspent youth, late sixties Mustang’s, Nova’s, Cougars, and GTO’s were all available for $1500. They were big, ran (sorta), were easy to work on, and looked good (ish) in primer. My natural tendency is to steer him towards modern equivalents.

Fortunately the kid has good taste. He’s equally enamored with Element’s and Mustangs. The budget of about $9000 (out the door) actually covers a lot of ground, from an ’06 Mustang v6 to an Element (even if those aren’t often cross-shopped). Most of the sporty imports I’ve seen seem to have had owners intent on thrashing the life out of them as quickly as possible, but I’m pretty open to FWD as a more winter & new-driver friendly car. What say you? Mustang? Element? Escape?

Okay, yes…I want permission to get the kid a Mustang.

Thanks kindly!

Sajeev answers:

You want my permission?  This is The Truth About Cars: I’m gonna fight you just because…but with some valid counterpoints!

I don’t really care how good a kid is! Getting a car (in just about any condition) is adequate payment for not being a PITA.  Course, I was lucky that the most readily available ride for me was indeed cool (’65 Galaxie LTD Hardtop, Proto Panther Love FTW),  but I didn’t need or deserve that icing on the cake.

I only had that car for a year, as my parents wanted me in a safer car.  Ya know, because 3-pt belts and a collapsible steering column isn’t a bad idea in the mid-1990s. My point? Just because you want your kid to have something nice doesn’t mean he deserves it. Or can appreciate it.

He deserves an honest machine that won’t cost much to insure and doesn’t encourage accidents. The dirty little secret:  any car is cool, the aftermarket and Internet Message Forums make a nerdy car into a sleeper.  Or a mediocre car into an easily scalable performance machine.

  • Why spend the insurance money on a Mustang?
  • Why increase the risk of him–even if he did nothing wrong–injuring others who might want to sue your pants off?

Get a boring sedan with some potential.  A 2000-2006 Taurus (quick as a Duratec, safely slow as a Vulcan V6) with readily available hop-up parts from the 1989-1999 Taurus SHO. Or a W-body General Motors sedan with the same parts potential.  Or Honda Accord, but not that insurance nightmare(?) known as the Civic Coupe. Or the “it’s already damn near sorted” Mazda 6.  These cars are cheap to buy, cheap to own, very easy to respect.  And possibly even love.

And if your son hates you for getting him something not nearly as cool as the vehicles of your youth, well, I guess I didn’t appreciate my first cool car nearly enough. So what the heck do I know? Off to you, Best and Brightest.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.


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Piston Slap: For the Next Stage in Life Wed, 06 Jul 2011 20:10:37 +0000


Mackenzie writes:

Hello, I am a 16-year-old girl looking to buy her first car. I am looking at Jeep Cherokees (NOT Grand Cherokees). I am trying to find a decent manual transmission one, but I can’t seem to locate any within a reasonable distance from me (Eastern Virginia).

My dad says I should look for a 1999-2001 Cherokee, but the few that I have found that are stick shift usually have pretty high mileage or are out of my budget. As car experts, would you guys recommend an older (94-98ish) Cherokee or a newer one with higher mileage?

I keep hearing that American-made cars are not as hardy as foreign-made cars, and that over 180,000 miles for a Cherokee is a no-go. My parents have agreed to pay half of the car, but with what I am finding, it’s still going to be a lot of money to pay. At first I was looking at $3500 tops, but I’m thinking I will have to raise that. Any help or advice y’all have on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Sajeev answers:

I know you want a Cherokee and they are pretty cool, but they are a terrible choice for a 16 year old. And not because Jeeps are junk and American cars aren’t has durable as foreign cars. As if. It’s the wrong move for things we haven’t discussed: gas cost, insurance rates and safety.

Let’s be real: teenagers will explore the limits of their driving skills. And I’d prefer you (or a friend who borrows your ride) keep the shiny side up. The Cherokee’s design dates back to the 1980s, so they aren’t especially great compared to modern car and trucks in a crash. And blaming it on old age alone is me being generous to the Cherokee. Perhaps its because of Federal regulations at the time, but trucks had little of the common sense safety engineering of cars from that era.

A boring little car is your best choice, you will have more money for other things, and will be better off in the future. If that sounds good to you, what car would you be interested in?

Find one of those in your price range. Make sure it has some service history or a host of new parts to ensure it hasn’t had a neglected, rough life. This is a better move for you, odds are you will have more money for other things in the future if you take my advice. And, believe it or not, that’s what you will want when you use that vehicle to move to the next stage of your life.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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