While parents are still buying cars for their teenage children, they’re cutting back on costs. That’s the message delivered by a survey of 600 American parents with children under 18, conducted for Allstate Insurance.
Three out of five parents whose teen children had a driver’s license said the current “economic downturn” has caused them to curtail expenses for youngsters’ driving. The same response was given by 46 percent of all parents surveyed. Car expenses that are being cut back include not only purchase price, but the cost of fuel, maintenance, and so forth.
Lower-income households, logically enough, are even more likely to exercise restraint when it comes to teen driving. Some 72 percent of parents in households earning less than $30,000 per year say they’re saving or spending less. Barely one-third of parents who make more than $75,000 admitted to cutting back.
Among parents of teens with licenses,73 percent said their child had his or her own automobile. Another 8 percent reported that the child shares a car with a sibling. Comparing the present with the past, only 48 percent of those parents had a personal car when they were young (or shared one with siblings).
Willingness to pay the full price of a car, without expecting the youngster to contribute, appears to escalate as a child approaches driving age. Only 27 percent of all parents said they believe in paying in full. Yet, of parents who already had a child with a license, 46 percent expressed willingness to pay the entire price. Parents who paid for their own car when young are more likely to believe that their own children should contribute to the cost.
Just over half of parents said they would pay all or most of the cost of inspections and registration fees, and 45 percent would cover the cost of insurance. Nearly as many (44 percent) would pay for general vehicle maintenance, but only 17 percent expressed willingness to pay for all or most of the gasoline consumed by their child’s automobile.
What kind of car are they buying for youngsters? Among all parents, 57 percent said they would spend $5,000 or less. More than three-fourths of parents said safety is their top priority, while 18 percent cited reliability and a mere 1 percent ranked fuel-efficiency as the primary attribute.
Of parents whose children already had cars, 94 percent said that vehicle had been purchased secondhand, and was an average of 9.3 years old. That’s just about the same average age as the parents’ first automobile.