Buying a car is a big decision for anyone. A car represents a large investment and is likely to be used for several years, so choosing the right car--and the right buying method--is worth extra planning. For seniors, special considerations may make certain cars more appealing than others. A buyer's age might also influence choices among different financing and warranty options.
Choosing a Car
When a senior is considering a new car, there are several important factors to take into account. Generally these will all involve driving comfort, and the ease with which the vehicle can be controlled. Comfort starts with the seat, which many seniors prefer to be adjustable in terms of height and tilt. The natural seating position is also important, and should be high enough to allow for easy access to and from the car. The larger doors on two-door coupes may be difficult to swing open, and may also make access to the back seat more difficult. These can be issues if the senior driver also intends to have senior passengers.
The car's controls are also important. Electronic power steering will make it easier to turn the car with very little physical effort. An automatic transmission and steering wheel-mounted controls may also save a great deal of unnecessary movement within the cabin. Some seniors find larger, more basic controls for the radio, climate control, and other vehicle systems a big plus.
Safety features are also especially important to many seniors. Choose a car with basic features such as multiple air bags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control. Blind spot warning systems and rear-view cameras are currently only available on certain models, but may reduce the risk of accidents and prevent the need for a driver to twist around in the seat to get a view of the surroundings.
Financing And Warranties
Seniors tend to own their cars for longer periods of time, settling on a satisfactory model and sticking with it. This heightens the need to choose a car with a good extended warranty. Cars from automakers who offer warranties of up to 10 years or 100,000 miles may be especially worth considering.
Financing options are another important consideration. While seniors on a fixed income may wish to take advantage of a long-term payment plan, others will prefer to make a large down payment and reduce, or eliminate, the need for monthly payments. Consult your local dealership to learn about the financing options offered, as these are subject to change over time. A fixed-term lease, in which a car is always under warranty and predictable payments are made on a monthly basis, might be the best option for seniors who will not plan to do any of their own maintenance work and want the security of a new car every few years.
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