How to Buy a Car as a High School Student

How to buy a car as a high school student.

Buying a car in high school can be a fun and exciting experience. If you are looking to buy a car as a high school student there are a few things to keep in mind.

A high school student should always spend time researching the car they are interested in purchasing. You can do this by comparing local listings and taking the car on a test drive. Doing this will help you have a better understanding of the car as you negotiate the price.

Buying your first car as a high school student might seem like a complicated task. In this article, I am going to go over exactly how you can buy a car in high school in the easiest way possible.

Please note that this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see our disclosure policy.

How to Buy Your First Car as a High School Student

Figuring out how much you are willing to spend is step one when buying your first car. The average high school student does not have a ton of money saved up that they can spend on their first car. This means buying a used car will be your best bet at finding a good deal.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different, some people can afford to buy a more expensive car, some are looking to buy the cheapest car available. In this article, I am going to be focusing on how to get the best deal possible when purchasing a car in high school.

Used Cars vs New Cars

It’s important to understand the difference between new and used cars. New cars are more expensive and have a higher price tag than used cars. On top of that, new cars start losing their value the moment you drive them off the lot.

On average a new car will lose 20% to 30% of its value in just the first year. This means that if you wanted to sell your new car a year later, you would have to sell it for a minimum of 20% less.

Advantages of Buying a Used Car

If you buy a used car, you are taking advantage of the new car’s lost value, or depreciation. By purchasing a used car is like using a coupon when buying groceries.

As a high school student, you only have a limited amount of money that you can spend on a car. Getting that discount lowers the price that you have to pay for a car significantly.

In fact, if you decide to purchase a car that is at least five years old, it is not uncommon for the price to be 60% lower than its original price as a new car.

These cars are not just a box of metal with wheels either. Used cars often work just as well as new cars. Any repairs needed often cost far less than the price you would have paid for a brand new car.

Doing research on a potential used car is important so you can avoid cars that need major repairs. Some used car owners are selling their cars with repairs already completed.

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Tips for Buying a Car in High School

When you are looking to buy a car in high school, keep these five tips in mind. With these tips, you will be able to get a better deal on your car, save more money, and avoid buyer’s remorse.

1. Spend Time Researching

Doing research on the car you want to purchase is one of the most important parts of getting a good deal. If you go into purchasing a car without having done research you most likely overpaid or left a lot of negotiating power on the table.

Research can come in the form of viewing similar online car listings and comparing the prices. Take note of how much others are selling the same vehicle you are looking at.

Kelly Blue Book helps with finding the value of most vehicles. By comparing similar listings and using Kelly Blue Book, you should be able to get an accurate estimated price of your potential car.

2. Compare Local Listings

Similar to researching the price of a vehicle, comparing local listings can give you leverage when negotiating the price. If you can find the same car cheaper somewhere else, take that into account.

Spend time looking at similar vehicles and take note of their mileage, any damage to the car, and the year. Sometimes it might be worth it to get a car model a year older with less damage and mileage. However, these factors can fluctuate greatly depending on the car.

3. Go For a Test Drive

Make sure to take the car for a test drive to see how it runs. This is especially important when buying a used vehicle in high school. Taking the car you are potentially going to purchase for a test drive can highlight any flaws it might have.

If you do notice flaws when test driving the car, remember them and bring them up when discussing the price of the car.

4. Inspect It

Inspecting the car is another important step for those looking to save the most money on a car purchase and get the best possible price. Any dents or damage to a used car can be used later on when you negotiate the price.

When I was looking at buying my first car in high school I saw there was a nail in the car tire. The owner of the car then said they would put brand new tires on the vehicle after we completed our deal.

If I had not inspected the car before purchasing it I would never have had the opportunity to make the owner pay for the tires. Inspecting any car before you buy it is crucial and can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

5. Negotiate

Negotiating the price of the car might seem like an intimidating task to some and fun to others. If you go in prepared, took it for a test drive, compared local listings, and inspected it for damage, the negotiating process gets a lot easier.

This is because you know how much you should be paying for the car. When you know how much a car is worth it’s easier to know when to accept or walk away from the deal.

You should always try to negotiate a price lower than the listing value. This means your first offer should be quite a bit lower than the asking price. They will most likely counter with something slightly lower than the original price. Try to get at least 10% to 15% off the original asking price of the vehicle.

Be ready to walk away if you cannot strike a good deal. However, if you are able to agree on a fair and reasonable price, feel free to accept it!

Other Teen Car Buying Questions

How Much Should a Teenager Save For a Car?

A teenager should save $1000 to $5000 for a car. Buying a used car at around that price will get you a decent car that drives well.

Most teenagers can easily save up a few thousand dollars from working a summer job or starting a side hustle. Of course, you can save up more and buy a more expensive car if you decide to do so.

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Can a 16 Year Old Buy a Car From a Dealership?

A 16 year old can only buy a car from a dealership using cash. However, a teen would have to wait until they turn 18 to get a car loan to purchase a car from a dealership. No dealership will refuse to sell a car to a 16 year old looking to buy a car in cash.

Can a 17 Year Old Buy a Car With Cash?

A 17 year old can buy a car with cash. Most people are more than willing to sell their car to a 17 year old, given they have the cash for it.

Can a 16 Year Old Finance a Car?

A 16 year old cannot finance a car. If you are younger than 18, you cannot finance a car because that would require a legally binding contract. Your best bet for taking out a car loan is to wait until you are at least 18 years or older.


Purchasing a car in high school can be an amazing experience. This is probably your first big purchase. Saving up enough money to buy a car as a high school student takes work and is something to be proud of.

If you enjoyed reading about how to buy a car as a high school student, check out our other informative articles below!

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