Each Saturday, we have several calls from people who identify themselves as senior citizens wanting advice on new vehicles. Many were considering going from a sedan to a crossover.
By the time you get to be a senior citizen, you have probably bought a good number of cars. The truth is, even if you don't admit it, you are wondering if this will be your last car, and, frankly that makes you think a little harder and a little longer. When I was the owner of a car dealership, I sold a lot of my customers their "last car" as many as ten times.
Listeners tell me that as they age, they feel more vulnerable at a car dealership. That is very understandable, there is a lot to consider. Your happiness with a car is one of the most important factors. If you are not in a position to pay cash, you don't want to burden your family with debt should your time come to call it a day. For me, I say get a vehicle you will like, one that is easy to enter and exit, and that makes you happy!
There are a number of things to consider when making a choice for your new wheels.
- Clearly, safety is one of the most important. All vehicles are safer today than ever before, but new safety options can make your chances of an accident less. A rearview camera is a great feature, as is blind spot monitoring. Both these options offer prevention of accidents. Front and rear parking sensors are becoming common, too, they will keep those small dents and dings off your new set of wheels.
- Then there is comfort. Make sure the seats are comfortable to you. If you have had back problems, get a car with lumbar support that can make a huge difference. Make sure too you can adjust the steering wheel where it feels good and you have a full view of the road ahead. Check the exterior mirrors to see if visibility is good. If you are in a cold climate, heated seats are nice, and in hot climates, air conditioned seats can make you much more comfortable. Lastly, make sure all controls are in your reach without you having to be right on top of the steering wheel. In the case of an accident, airbags can save your life, but they can also harm you. It is best to stay as far from them as is safe..
- Then let's talk about access. Seniors often buy a new vehicle only to find out it is hard to get into and out of. You may want that last sports car you always dreamed of having, but when it comes time to get into and out of it, you may be miserable. Practice at the dealership entering and exiting to see how you feel. Do it as many times as necessary to make sure you are not going to feel tinges of pain. Usually, SUVs are at a height that most people can ease into and out of the seat.
- Last, do not leave with your new car until you understand the gadgets in it, no matter how long it takes. Driver distraction can be deadly and it is not worth the risk. Know how everything works so that it is intuitive. If it is too much to absorb when you take delivery, wait a few days then go back to the dealership for more lessons. Practice on your own while parked at home.
Whether it is actually your last vehicle, or you just think it will be your last vehicle, it is an emotional decision. Take your time, do not rush this. If a dealership is trying to pressure you, leave. There are great dealerships out there that will give you patient, prudent, advice.