America’s retirees still love to drive — 78% of baby boomers see their car as key to their independence and 41% are willing to pay extra for the latest car-technology features to make driving more enjoyable and safer, AARP reports. Buying a new car can help you make the most of your retirement whether it’s used for day-to-day activities, road trips further afield, or working on as a hobby. It’s important to research different cars and think carefully about what you want before you make your final decision.
Safety should be the main priority when choosing a car. Fortunately, modern car safety systems have advanced greatly and can make up for poor sight, mobility, and reflexes. There’s now features like automatic emergency braking (AEB), collision warning, and blind spot detection. Most new cars include camera and rear proximity sensors to make reversing and parking easy. They also have fatigue warning and lane departure warning which is beneficial if you tire easily — you’ll be alerted if you’re veering off course and guided back into the right lane. You’ll, therefore, have greater confidence and peace of mind behind the wheel. Honda, Ford, Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Audi, and Mazda are some car makes offering these features.
The cost of car maintenance builds up over time — particularly with used cars which develop problems easier. If you’re planning to retire early, it’s particularly important to budget for the cost of car ownership. On average, new cars cost a driver $1,186 per year to maintain and repair. New cars are also typically covered by a three-year warranty. Before buying your car, research the typical cost of maintenance and any problems that typically develop to avoid expensive surprises. You can save money by carrying out car maintenance and repairs yourself. A data monitoring system, for example, can carry out engine checks to diagnose and inform you of problems to fix.
Comfort and efficiency
When it comes to comfort, look for cars with 16-17-inch wheels and tire aspect ratios of 55% or more. Hyundai, Ford Falcon, Volkswagen Polo, Golf, and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport are some great options. Generally, a larger wheel diameter and low profile tires result in a harsher ride. Adaptive dampers, with both comfort and sport modes, can create a smooth ride regardless of wheel and tire specification. However, you can also change the tires yourself. For example, if your car rides on 18-inch wheels, reduce the size to 17 inches to improve comfort. Don’t go any bigger or smaller than one inch or you could end up damaging the suspension. You can also simply boost efficiency and power by reprogramming the engine control unit, which is typically programmed below the engines full capability.
Whichever car you’re considering, it’s important to give it a test drive before purchasing. Be sure to test drive at different times of the day and in different weather conditions with at least one other person in the car with you. You’ll, therefore, get first-hand experience of how the car drives, as well as honest feedback from others.