Car ownership might be difficult when a minor is involved. But seeing how kids these days are more than willing to use their parents’ vehicle and drive to their friends’ houses or to the mall, it’s not shocking for minors to ask themselves, “Can a 17 year-old buy a car?” Indeed, most minors nowadays look at the possibility of owning their first set of wheels. But is owning a car really possible for them? The short answer is yes. However, there might be more issues and extra steps to take than you would think. Most states do not mind a 17 year-old buying a car. However, the answers to this question can vary as it will still depend on the state you call home. Laws differ on the permissible age to own a car.
Without further ado, here’s what you should expect when wanting to buy a car as a minor.
Registering A Car In Your Name
As a rule of thumb, a minor cannot enter a contract. This is why being the sole owner of a vehicle might not be possible for a minor. Technically, the minor’s parents are the owners of the property until he or she reaches the legal age.
Registration is a process that the state requires. It serves as documentation by your state’s tax office and is meant to validate that your vehicle has gone through their registration system. This means that it can therefore be out and driven on the road.
Even though registering a car in your name seems to be far-fetched for now, you can still buy a car; that is, provided that you have your parents with you to co-sign on an auto loan. Majority of car dealers also prefer to not sell cars to minors because it would entail legal proceedings to allow a person who is not of the majority age to perform such action. The same can also be said for insurance companies.
While minors can sign a contract, they cannot be held to their contractual obligations as they can freely honor a deal or deem a contract null and void before they reach the age of 18. This is another good reason why companies in general are wary to transact with someone under the legal age.
Because of such rules, selling a car to a 17 year-old would mean calling for the involvement of a parent or guardian to sign the bill of sale and other paperworks, it is therefore the adult who will be bound to the terms of the contract. Again, this is the same case for insurance companies.
Buying A Car From A Dealership As A Minor
Most teenagers now look forward to obtaining their driver’s license. However, as stated above, you might have to keep up with the waiting game as minors are not allowed by most states to enter a contract or sign legal papers on their own. Therefore, buying a car from a dealership as a minor cannot be made feasible by you alone, not until you reach the age of majority. If you can’t wait to grab the opportunity, though, you can always ask for your parents or guardian to be with you throughout the process.
Buying A Car From Private Sellers As A Minor
Buying a vehicle from a private seller pretty much entails the same processes and requirements when buying from a dealership, so the same rules will apply. Again, technically, you are allowed to purchase but you may need a helping hand from your parents or guardian for the contracts and paperworks.
Buying a car from private sellers as a minor would also mean getting your car insured. Problems will show on the surface if your parents or guardian is not in the insurance policy. Make sure to always be with them in completing these transactions as insurance companies do not write insurance policies for minors alone.
To sum it all up, while the answer to your burning question, “Can a 17 year-old buy a car?” is technically yes, it is still important to note and understand that when it comes to registering and insuring the vehicle, you cannot assume full independence. These transactions would almost always require you to get your parents or guardian involved.
What About Emancipated Minors?
Not all rules are created equal. Like most things in life, there is an exception to the rules explained to you on the above paragraphs; that is, when you are an emancipated minor.
Emancipation means that a minor is legally freed from the control of their guardian or parents; the parents in return are freed of the responsibility of the child.
Here are the most common ways on how a minor can get emancipated:
- Military enlistment as a minor (requires consent from parents)
- Getting married (parental consent required in most states)
- Court order from a judge (does not require consent)
Once emancipated, a minor can legally enter into a contract and is able to sign any legal paperworks necessary to purchase a vehicle. In other words, emancipated minors are free to buy, register, and get car insurance under their own name.
Questions would always pop up when the time comes that a teen feels the need to drive. The thought of having your own car gets you pumped up and all excited to have a test drive. But before making a spur of the moment decision, if you are nearing the acceptable driving age, try consulting your parents first and talk to them about your plans. Not all parents are well-off, so if you know your family’s financial capacity, it is best to manage your expectations. If you’re lucky, your parents might just decide to help you pay for your first car. Whatever it is, seek for your parents’ advice first. And if you know someone who might also be asking themselves the question, “Can a 17 year-old buy a car?” Let them know they’re not alone and refer this article in order for them to learn what you just did.