By John Teehan for Northern Colorado Life
Buying or leasing a vehicle can be a major decision, no matter how old you are. There are always many factors to consider, such as cost, safety ratings, fuel efficiency, and more. You could have this vehicle for years, so taking time to select the best option for you makes the most sense.
Senior lifestyles have their own unique needs. Seniors often have more leisure time, but there are also more physical considerations. Because a car purchase or lease is such a significant investment, it’s a good idea to review some of the many angles involved in arranging a vehicle during your senior years.
Here are six things you should think about when planning your next vehicle purchase or lease:
1. Only Work With Reputable Dealers
This first piece of advice seems too obvious to state. That said, there are too many dealers out there who place a higher priority on making a fast sale than what a customer wants or needs. While it’s perfectly fine to visit any dealer with a vehicle that may be of interest, don’t commit to anything unless you’re sure it’s what you want.
You’ll also want a car’s repair history if it’s a used car and some reassurance that warranty and service guarantees will be honored.
Having your ideal vehicle repeatedly visiting the garage for repairs is inconvenient and expensive.
You can see how a dealership has treated past customers by searching for them on online review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp.
2. Make Comfort A Priority
Even if you don’t foresee yourself spending a lot of time behind the wheel, comfort can mean the difference between a car that’s a dream or a nightmare. While larger vehicles tend to ride more smoothly and have an abundance of storage space, smaller cars can be simpler to enter and exit. Look for cars with quality suspension, so rougher roads are less punishing.
Don’t neglect creature comforts such as heated seats, power windows, power-assist sliding doors on vans, and remote starters for those cold mornings. Power steering, automatic transmission, and power cargo door controls can go far in reducing arm and shoulder strain.
Being uncomfortable, or worse, in pain behind the wheel can distract a driver and end up becoming a safety issue. Speaking of which…
3. Don’t Skimp on the Safety Features
Effective headlights, fog lights, and anti-glare windshields can make driving at night safer. Anti-lock breaks, quality tires, and airbags go far in giving you peace of mind when sharing the road with others. Remember that in some cases, certain safety features can lead to lower insurance premiums.
4. Space for Assistive Equipment
If you have special equipment requirements such as a cane, wheelchair, walker, crutches, oxygen tank, or the like, it’s a good idea to make sure any new vehicle has ample space for these items—not only spacious room but also secure space, so nothing shifts or rolls around while you’re driving. Does anything you bring with you into the car need to be charged or powered? Make sure the vehicle you’re looking at comes with sufficient power outlets.
It’s a good idea to bring whatever you would need with you when shopping for a new car or van. Practice getting in and out of the vehicle with these items, and if you find yourself having any trouble, it might be a sign that you’d be better off with another choice.
5. Look for the Best Fit
As active as many seniors are, there can be occasional mobility challenges, including joint or muscle pain. Repeatedly getting in and out of a car can be an uncomfortable chore.
But it’s important to realize that different people will have different needs. While lower-to-the-ground cars can be more practical, some people find it less awkward to get in and out of taller vehicles like vans and SUVs. The only way to know for sure what type of vehicle fits you best is to try them out yourself at the dealership. Don’t hesitate to adjust the seat settings. Don’t worry about being picky. You’re paying good money to drive comfortably.
6. Think Five Years Down the Road
It’s difficult to predict the future. The perfect car for you now may be less so three, four, or five years later. Activities change. Residences change. Health conditions change.
Whenever possible, try to include in your vehicle decisions what your needs might be a few years later. Unless you’ve signed up for a yearly lease, a car is something you’re likely to have for a few years, and you don’t want to spend too many of those years with something that ended up being a less-than-ideal selection.
This will be your car, and it’s your decision. Don’t feel rushed or pressured into making the wrong decision. You have every right to go with the vehicle that works best for you, your budget, and your health.