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Can you Buy a Car at 16

Learn about the legal requirements and obligations for 16-year-olds acquiring an automobile and practical measures to make this critical decision confidently. Let us find out in detail!
Can you Buy a Car at 16
Can you Buy a Car at 16
Discover the prospect of a 16-year-old acquiring a car, the related obligations, and how to handle this critical time confidently. Let's explore more!
In this article

The passion for having the independence to drive around and not rely on people is increasing among young adults. Every teenager wants a car, be it for the inconvenience they face when traveling or just for the inner peace of not having to worry about expenses faced in public transport. The comfort of owning a car comes with the burden of commitments and duties. Responsibilities include maintaining it properly, having insurance, managing finances effectively, etc.

As a teenager, you might not know all the legal procedures needed to be learned before owning a vehicle. We understand how essential it is to have a car so that you don’t rely on people to pick you up and drop off places, and as a parent, you’d always want your child to be independent at a young age.

Can you Buy a Car at 16

A 16-year-old can buy a car and drive it only in one condition. Their registration or title should be under an adult 18+ who takes responsibility for the teenager. In simple words, the ownership of the car should be under an adult’s name. Having an adult’s name for all legal procedures is essential, as the government does not allow minors to have insurance, loans, or any financial requirements without an adult’s consent. 

Buying a car comes with the responsibility of having insurance, making it essential for the teenager to have an adult (preferably parents) and to have their name, title, and registration on the legal documents of the vehicle.

If you’re a Washington state citizen, you might face a few problems when buying a car at 16. In Washington state, 16——and 17-year-olds can’t own a vehicle unless they already own one in another state. They can be added as drivers to use the car legally, but they can’t own it until they turn 18.

A Guide for 16-Year-Olds: Steps to Buying Your First Car

Buying your first car at 16 can be crucial and complicated. You should know what steps should be taken or what decisions should be made. We’ve made it easier for you and compiled five steps every teenager should follow before buying a car. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Set a budget for buying your vehicle.

Decide your car budget by looking at savings and monthly income. Consider financing options and additional costs like insurance and maintenance. Always read loan agreements carefully.

Step 2: Research about the offers and deals.

Think about your driving needs and desired features. Research online to compare prices and safety ratings. Use websites like Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book for guidance.

Step 3: Decide whether you want a used or new car.

Choose between a new or used car based on budget and needs. Be cautious when buying used; get a mechanic to inspect the vehicle. Check the VIN for the car’s history.

Step 4: Take driving tests of the cars to ensure safety.

Test drive cars to feel their performance and comfort. Inspect the vehicle for any problems or damage. Bring an adult for advice and safety.

Step 5: Negotiate between multiple choices.

Negotiate the price and avoid unnecessary add-ons. Review contracts carefully before signing. Make sure all paperwork, like title and registration, is handled correctly.

Legal Age Requirements for Buying a Car

The legal age for all the requirements for buying a car is 18 or more in all 50 states of the USA. While the 47 states have 18 as the legal age requirement, two states (Alabama and Nebraska) have 19, and 1 state (Mississippi) has 21 as the legal age. 

There is typically no legal age to buy a car unless the title and registration of the vehicle are under an adult’s name. Regardless, a teenager can buy a car from dealers or private sellers if they exchange it for cash. Dealers and private sellers may also need the consent of an adult or a signature on documents to let the teenager buy the car.

Car Insurance Solutions for 16-Year-Old Drivers

Car liability insurance is crucial for all drivers. Most insurance companies prefer the policyholder to be at least 16 years old and licensed. To ensure a 16 year year old driver, follow these steps:

  • Add them to the parent’s policy
  • Compare prices from different companies
  • Ask about student and driver’s discounts

We have also combined a list of insurance companies that insure under-18 drivers. These companies often require adding the teen to a parent’s policy, which is usually cheaper than an individual policy.

  • Progressive
  • GEICO
  • State Farm
  • USAA

Leasing a Car at 16: Is It Possible and How?

  • Leasing a car for 2-3 years could be an excellent idea for a person who is under 18 and cannot have a registered name and title under the officially bought car. Buying a vehicle means owning it and having the name of an adult under the insurance and financial documents. 
  • While this can be too much for a 16-year-old, leasing can be much easier and cheaper. High schools and colleges allow teenagers to park for 2-3 years, which is perfect for a lease car that can be returned after use instead of a bought car that can neither be returned nor registered under the teenager’s name.
  • To lease a car for your teenager, you can always check out the best dealers and private owners that put their brand-new vehicles on lease for monthly payments until the time of return (2-3 years) arrives. Make sure you don’t settle for the first online deal you see. 
  • Ask the dealer for their best offers and negotiate the price, fees, and down payment. If your teen is going to college, check if the carmaker offers special student incentives.

State-by-State Guide: Car Buying Laws for 16-Year-Olds

  • Even as a teenager, numerous laws are different for most US states. Be it purchasing a car, applying for a driver’s license, getting insurance for the car, registering and titling, etc. All the laws state that an under-18 cannot opt for any requirements. 
  • In most states, you must be 18 to buy a car independently, but a 16-year-old can purchase with a co-signer. They need a valid driver’s license for registration, which requires completing driver’s ed and passing tests.
  • Insurance is mandatory, with rates typically higher for teens; shopping around is advised. Registration demands proof of ownership, like a title, and payment of fees, with potential state-specific requirements.
  • Financing usually requires a co-signer due to age restrictions. Some states might need parental consent for minors to buy or register a car. Ensure the vehicle passes safety and possibly emissions inspections before buying. 

Conclusion

Buying a car at 16 is a momentous milestone, marked by enthusiasm and new obligations. While driving provides a sense of freedom, it also implies legal responsibilities, insurance costs, and safety issues. As parents, it is critical to make educated decisions for your children and provide them with the resources they require. 

Before commencing the adventure of automobile ownership, youngsters must first understand personal and familial duties. Furthermore, once you are of legal age, looking into financing solutions such as Beem can provide significant advice and direction throughout the process, making the move to automobile ownership go more smoothly.  

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Shirlene Grace Isaac

Shirlene puts words on the Internet because she loves to do so and also for the money! She is a singer, songwriter, occasional poet, artist and muser — all in the body of a 20 something. She's a taleteller of sorts often looking for opportunities to narrate stories untold.

Editor

This page is purely informational. Beem does not provide financial, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide financial, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied on for the same. Please consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transactions.

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