While all the kids are returning to school this month, in October it will be the turn of 18-year-olds across the country, as yet another boatload of freshers join university. If you’re a parent whose children will finally be flying the nest, you might have considered purchasing them a car to help start them on their journey to freedom. But knowing where to begin when buying a car for your pride and joy isn’t easy; here are our top tips.

It might be tempting to purchase a brand new, top of the range car for your teenager but insurance, petrol and a whole other host of costs are likely to make it very expensive to run by the time they get to university. A brand new car is also much more likely to be the victim of attempted theft, making it an unwise choice for student drivers. Buying a second hand car not only saves you money, but will deter potential thieves who are looking for the latest model. They can also be cheaper to insure and many used cars are as fuel efficient as very new models.

Lots of parents also think that buying a car as an incentive for their teenager, whether that’s doing well in their exams or getting into their first university of choice, is a good idea. Here at Motors.co.uk we’d recommend against doing that: a car is a big responsibility and giving it away as a present can give off the wrong impression. Instead, negotiate with your teen on how best to purchase the car, and who will pay for which element; for example, their responsibility could be for buying fuel once the car is road-worthy, while you could pay for the insurance.

On this note, sharing the purchase of the car itself is a very good idea. Rather than saying you will pay for everything, talk to your teen about splitting the cost 60:40 or even 50:50 in order to balance the cost and help them learn a key skill for university life – budgeting! Plan how much they (and you) can save over the course of six months to a year, and set up a savings account especially for their car fund. This doesn’t mean to say that if you spot a bargain, you shouldn’t snap it up – just make sure that you are both able to pay for it!

Buying with efficiency in mind is another good tip. Try and find a used car with a good mileage, full MOT and tax, which has good fuel economy to prevent your teen having to fork out lots of extra cash on a gas-guzzling machine. However, don’t just opt for the cheapest and least cool car on the market; after all, your new student will want to have some street cred when they start at university. Choose a car with them in order to find one that satisfies both your needs.

Would you ever consider buying a car for your teen for university? Let us know over on our Facebook page.