Cars & Loans – Costs & Responsibilities

In this lesson students investigate the legal and financial responsibilities of buying, maintaining, insuring, and operating a car, and translate those responsibilities into a monthly budget.

Teaching Objectives:

  • List some of the costs of owning and operating a car
  • Given a budget, decide how much you can afford to pay for a car
  • List some of the things you should research and some decisions you should make before you begin to shop for a car
  • Understand the differences between various kinds of warranties and service contracts
  • List some steps you can take to resolve warranty and service contract disputes
  • List some of the factors to consider when shopping for a car loan
  • Calculate the total cost of various car loans
  • Understand what a co-signer is, and describe when one is necessary
  • List the responsibilities of a co-signer and of the person getting the loan
  • List some of the factors to consider when shopping for car insurance
  • List some of the factors used to set car insurance rates
  • Understand the circumstances under which a vehicle can be repossessed, and list the legal rights and responsibilities of the creditor and of the debtor
  • Given a budget, decide how much money can safely be spent each month to own, operate, and maintain a car
  • Know the advantages and disadvantages of leasing a motor vehicle


Suggested Grade Level

7th Grade – 12th Grade

Lesson Excerpt:

“Should I buy a new car or a used car?”

“Where is the best place to finance my automobile purchase?”

“Is it better to take the rebate or the low-rate financing plan?”

These are typical questions asked by people buying vehicles. In this lesson, students are asked to identify costs associated with owning and operating a motor vehicle. Since these costs are commonly underestimated, guidelines are provided on how much to spend when buying vehicles.

The material provided in this lesson will address the many factors and decisions involved in purchasing and financing a vehicle. In addition to comparing used and new cars, we also cover warranties, service contracts, and financing the purchase. Other issues related to using credit for buying a car include the information required by the Truth-in-Lending law, use of a co-signer, and repossession.

Finally, various aspects of auto insurance are discussed. Students will learn about types of coverages,
factors affecting insurance costs, and comparing insurance companies.


Teacher’s Guide

Teacher’s Guide


Presentation Slides

Presentation PDF

Presentation PowerPoint


Student Activities:

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For additional related lessons, explore our main category pages:

Categories Credit, Spending Money,

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