Car shopping for teens

It's a rite of passage for many teenagers... getting that first car. Parents may be excited, too.

Julie Bohlmeyer loves the fact that her 16-year-old daughter Jillian can now drive and is independent. Julie says that Jillian was so busy last year, and she was giving her rides everywhere. Julie feels the burden is lifted a bit now that Jillian can get herself to school, work and dance class.

Jillian couldn't wait to drive, and actually bought her own car! She got a job when she was 14 at Culver's, and saved money for a year and a half.

Jillian found the 2005 Jeep Liberty online, and Julie said it met their requirements for a teen car on many levels.

The Bohlmeyers were looking for affordability, because Jillian has a certain amount of money saved. They also wanted a four wheel drive for reliability in the Nebraska weather.

Brian Kreuzberg with Honda of Lincoln says that safety is probably the number one focus for parents car shopping for their teen, and air bags are probably the biggest improvement made to vehicles in recent years.

Kreuzberg says the car companies are spending a tremendous amount on safety in addition to reliability. He says a lot of people come in thinking something with the girth of a 1973 Chrysler Newport. But sometimes a a bigger car is harder to navigate.

You also might want to forget the sports car, and think about insurance costs. Rates can skyrocket, but discounts are available, especially for good students.

Laurie Klosterboer is with the Nebraska Safety Council. Laurie says, "On the insurance side, an older car is going to be less money. But again, I think it depends on everybody's price range, and what they can afford. There are cars under $10,000 that would be available and have a good safety rating."

For Julie and Jillian, all their car priorities came together, and they drove away in a vehicle that Jillian thinks is cool, too.

On a side note, Brian Kreuzberg says if you find a car and you think it's reliable but has a few miles, it would be worth the money to take it to a service rep and have it checked out mechanically. If someone doesn't want you to take the car to a mechanic, that might be a red flag.

Kreuzberg also says an older family car would be a good car to pass on to your teen. You know the history of it.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also has recommendations for used cars. That website is www.IIHS.org. It has smart picks for teen drivers that can help parents with the process of finding the right vehicle.