Chip shortage means parents will have to hunt harder for the right car for a new teen driver


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – When it comes to buying a car for a teenager, parents have a lot of considerations — price, safety, and reliability among them.

Choices are more limited this year for people looking for a used car for their teen.

The reason finding the best car for a teen became more of a challenge is because a shortage of computer chips has made new cars less available, thus forcing the price of used cars to skyrocket as inventories dwindle.

To keep your teen safe, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says you need to figure out your price point. 

“Purchase as much safety as you can afford,” said IIHS president David Harkey. 

The IIHS and Consumer Reports teamed up to create a list of used and new vehicles that are good cars for teens. It covers a wide range of prices. They’ve found scores of used models ranging from $6,400 to $20,000. 

Harkey said certain safety features are especially important for a young inexperienced driver.

“In the used-vehicle market, all of our vehicles must pass our basic crash safety tests,” he said. “That includes moderate overlap, roof strength, and side-impact tests.”

If you’re the parents of a teen who just graduated and got really good grades, the IIHS said don’t reward them with a really fancy, hot new car.

 “What’s not on our list are sports cars, as well as vehicles with excessive horsepower,” Harkey said.  “We also don’t include the largest SUVs like Suburbans and Expeditions because they can be a little hard to handle and learn to drive.”

Because Consumer Reports also helped compile the list, it looks at long-term repair records of cars for teens. 

“As a parent, you want your child in a safe vehicle and a reliable vehicle.,” Harkey said.

Also stay away from very old clunkers. They may be inexpensive, but they may lack safety features teen drivers need. 

“The novice driver is the one more likely to make a mistake and you want to put them in as safe a vehicle as you can afford,” Harkey said.

Because of the vehicle inventory shortage, be prepared to hunt around because not all cars will be available everywhere. 

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