Test passed, car keys in hand, your late teens can be an incredible time when you discover the freedom of the open road…or at least the ability to go places without asking your mum for a lift.
But being a teenage driver isn’t all top tunes and road trips. In fact, getting access to wheels can lead to a whole new level of life drama, from lift-loving hangers on to petrol station faux pas. And that’s quite apart from finding affordable car insurance.
Here’s our guide to six car problems only teenagers will understand.
The L word
Getting your driving licence elevates you to a whole new level of cool but driving around with L plates while you’re learning can have quite the opposite effect.
Patience is a virtue and with the average amount of time put in to pass your test amounting to 47 hours with an instructor and 20 of private practice, it’s time to embrace those Ls and focus on your end game.
Pretending the L stands for ‘legend’ is almost bound to improve your test performance (and popularity)
My other car is a Porsche
You had visions of pulling up at a party in your ideal dream machine but instead you’re buying a second-hand car that’s possibly as old as you are. Try and remember to use the word ‘vintage’ instead of ‘old’ and hope for the best. Worse, you’ve got wheels that look like they belong to a middle-aged woman. Because they really do belong to a middle-aged woman. Your mum.
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Driving is fun but getting fuel is a whole different ball game that’s boring and terrifying in equal measure.
First you have to remember which side your fuel cap is on. You may as well be trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube with a blindfold on unless you know the trick – there’s often a handy little arrow next to the pump symbol on your dashboard. Then there’s the pick a pump conundrum: the green one or the black one? In case you’re wondering, the answer is never ‘both’. Accidentally put petrol (the green one) in your diesel car (should have used the black one) or the other way round and you will feel a right idiot blocking up the forecourt while you wait for the AA to come and very publicly sort it out.
There’s also the cost. Mastering the art of putting in exactly £10 is a valuable life skill to be learned immediately. It’s that, or face the shame of having to borrow three pence as you’ve accidentally gone over.
You may have mastered reverse parking for your test, but try doing it with a car full of your jeering mates.
The very thought of the crushing humiliation of failing to get into a space on your third or fourth attempt is enough to make us want to only drive to places with massive multi-storeys nearby.
Not only are you in control of the wheel, you’re in charge of the stereo. Free from the constraints of your parents’ musical whims, you can play whatever you like – as long as it’s on cassette.
If you’re buying a used car with a tape deck it’s either time to get an adaptor that means you can play MP3s off your phone, or head to the charity shop and embrace the old school. Who needs on-screen track selection when you can repeatedly hit fast forward and stop until you get to the song you want?
Give us a lift!
With great power comes great responsibility – and with a new car comes lots of people wanting a ride. Piling everyone in is inadvisable which means you have to choose your passengers wisely and deal with the scorn of those you leave behind to walk.
Your parents, oblivious to the issue, will insist on you having at least one younger sibling in the car with you at all times, encouraging you ferry them to and from after-school clubs and classes.
And here’s perhaps a disadvantage of driving you might not have thought of. If you’re the proud owner of wheels then you have the short straw when it comes to having a drink. While your mates are knocking back the beers, you’ll be on the lime and lemonade. No choice, even a small one could lose you your licence for years. And there’s nothing more embarrassing than that.