Picking the right car for a young driver

It’s a big deal when your child passes their driving test and every parent wants to know that their child will be safe on the road. Picking the right car for a young driver is important, from checking a car’s history to picking the right model and engine size. Our official breakdown provider, the RAC have put together their top tips for choosing the right car.


Do your research

Research is key in terms of making sure you’re paying the right price, especially if it is a used car, so make sure you’ve reviewed price guides to ensure that you don’t pay too much.

There are plenty of handy online tools to do this, such as Auto Trader’s car valuation tool.

Once you’ve picked out a car, inspect it thoroughly for any body damage and take it on a test drive to ensure there aren't any engine or electrical faults before you hand over any money.

Read our test drive guide for more information.

Choosing your model

As a general rule the best kind of car for a young driver is something with a small engine so that it falls into a lower insurance group, but also something that will be reliable in order to keep down maintenance costs. An engine size of 1.3 or lower is ideal.

Larger engine sizes – which are statistically more likely to speed and be involved in accidents – are deemed a higher risk by insurers, meaning higher insurance.

Young drivers should also look at the car makes and models with best reliability ratings, and the more common models, as that makes it easier to find spare parts for maintenance.

Ensure the car has a 4 or 5 Euro NCAP crash rating, and if you’re buying a used car, it’s vital to get as much information as possible about the car’s history.

That means full service history and MOT check, finding out about the age of the engine cam belt for example (and when it needs replacing), or checking the condition of the tyres and depth of tread.

Read the RAC used car guide for what to look out for.

Check vehicle history

An easy way to check on vehicle’s history is to order an RAC Car Passport, which will provide a complete history check of the car including 10 alerts covering outstanding finance.

The report highlights whether the car has ever been reported stolen, written off or scrapped and any mileage discrepancies, as well as common breakdown reasons and MOT failures.

If you’re unsure about the mechanical health of the vehicle, you can also request an RAC Vehicle Inspection for an expert opinion.

Avoid car modifications

Young drivers should avoid choosing a car that has had after-market modifications such as alloy wheels, body kits or spoilers.

They may look good on the car however they can also increase the cost and make it harder to find insurance because repairing modifications or replacing non-standard parts is more expensive.

Get the right insurance

SMART WHEELS ‘black box’ insurance is designed specifically for 17 to 24 year-olds. Not only does it help young drivers hone their driving skills using telematics, but it also cuts car insurance costs significantly.

Find out more information about SMART WHEELS.



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