Buying A Used Car

Suggested Target Age: 9th-12th grades (Can also be done with 5th-8th grades; one way to do so creatively would be to have your senior high students perform the play for your junior high students)

Topics Covered: comparison-shopping, car financing, the test drive

Sources: Consumer Jungle has an entire unit on cars with many activities, worksheets, and lesson plans.

Time Required: 45 minutes

What Will the Students Learn? Common mistakes used car buyers make and how to avoid them

State Content Standards Key
California: N/A
Florida: SS.D.1.3
Indiana: N/A
Virginia: Civics and Economics: CE.9, Economics Education and Financial Literacy: Objectives 7, 11, 13

Note: This lesson can be done completely off-line, without computers, or with an optional concluding activity that requires Internet access.

Materials Required:

Teacher Preparation: (Do at least a couple days prior to the lesson)

  • Print out and read through the Script for Emma Soinstyle Buys a Used Car.
  • Select a cast – choose several students and assign them characters.
  • Gather all the props listed in the script. You might want to have the students help you make them.
  • Practice and rehearse the skit with the cast so they will be able to perform it.

Lesson Plan:

  1. Ask students what they should do when buying a used car. As they give you answers, write them on the board.
  2. After they have run out of answers, tell them that you are about to perform a skit about used-car buying, and they have to pay attention to what Emma Soinstyle learns.
  3. Have your cast members perform the Emma Soinstyle Buys a Used Car Skit.
  4. After the skit, discuss the following questions with the class:
    1. At the beginning of the skit, what were the main things that Emma Soinstyle was looking for in her new car?
      1. What were some of the things that Emma should have been thinking about?
    2. What were some of the mistakes that Emma made while she was shopping for her car?
      1. What happened as a result?
      2. What could she have done differently?
    3. What did Emma learn? What will she do differently next time?
    4. When you buy a used car, what are some things you should do and think about? (Bring a Blue Book, visit multiple dealers to compare prices, run a history report on the car, take the car to a mechanic, make sure the car is safe, ask for the price in writing, and watch out for cows in the middle of the road.)
  5. Pass out the Did You Know? Handout. Review the bullet points on it. The skit will have covered most of them, but you will need to discuss briefly the points about car insurance. (If you want to go into a greater level of detail about car insurance, you could pass out the optional handout, “Insurance Basics” from Consumer Jungle. This three-page worksheet provides information on the different types of insurance, e.g., collision, liability, and comprehensive.)

Optional Closing Activity: If you have a computer lab and access to the Internet, you could show the students some helpful websites to use when shopping for a car. Tell the students that you need to buy a new (used) car and you are looking for a 4-door vehicle, with good safety ratings, under 50,000 miles, and under $10,000 in price and see what they can come up with by researching the Internet.

Helpful sites include:

You should also mention to students that Consumer Reports is a great source of information and car reviews. However, searching their site on the Internet requires a subscription. However, local public libraries will carry current (and back) issues of Consumer Reports.