I have received this question many times and I wish there was a perfect answer. Of course, there is no greater control over a teenager than to have the authority to take away their car, but having your name on the title can be very risky.
In the event of an accident, the driver and the owner of the vehicle can be sued. By putting the title of the car in your child’s name, it would be difficult for you to end up being sued if they were at fault in an accident. There are still some legal theories upon which a good attorney may try to sue a parent of a 16 year old driver, but without your name on the title it would be an uphill battle for them.
In my own case, I have a 17 year old and she did get her first car at the age of 16. We titled the car solely in her name to avoid any potential for liability. Attorneys that I have discussed this with have advised me to never let my children drive my cars, but to help them to buy a car and title it in their name solely. This makes goods sense and is probably your best course of action. I also like the practicality of buying an older car for $2,000 to $2,500 and having your teen learn on that rather than a more expensive family vehicle.
On the issue of insurance, you can keep them on your policy even if they own the car. This may still be necessary for them to be able to obtain insurance at an affordable rate.
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