Car Buying Tips for Seniors

There is something about fall approaching that has people of all ages thinking about shopping; whether it’s back to school, back to work or back to the routine, there is always something our closets or our homes might need.  And as auto dealerships prepare for the latest model vehicles to arrive, late July and August can also be a good time to shop for a new car.

Older adults may have dreamed of finally buying that convertible sports car now that they are nearing or arrived at retirement age and don’t have young kids and their gear to schlep around.  But there are a few considerations seniors making a car purchase may want to look at before either making an impulse buy or choosing what has always felt comfortable.  Thinking down the road a few years, some car choices may offer more utility and enjoyment than others.

Getting in and out of a vehicle easily becomes increasingly important as we age.  A small SUV or raised wagon can be a good alternative for seniors who find sedans are feeling a tad too low to the ground.  Command-of-the-road seating is addictive however, and once you go high you may never want to sit low again.   Higher vehicles also make it easier to load and unload groceries, luggage, walkers or portable wheelchairs.  Some good choices might include the Honda CRV, the Ford Escape, the Subaru Forester or the Toyota RAV4.

Senior drivers may also want to steer clear of too much technology that winds up being overly complicated or distracting.  Many new car features are helpful for seniors;  lane departure alerts, parking assist, back-up cameras or OnStar can help older drivers stay safe behind the wheel longer but some smart cars technology can distract drivers.  According to a recent AAA study, voice activated entertainment systems can take a driver’s attention away from the road for up to 27 seconds before their minds can refocus on traffic and potential hazards.

Older adults should also make sure the vehicle is comfortable, controls are easy to find and operate, seats offer good back support and visibility is excellent.   If you aren’t sure if your vehicle choice is a good fit, visit the Car Fit program website, sponsored by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association, to find a car fit event near you.

For more car buying tips for older drivers, visit Consumer Reports Top 25 New Cars for Seniors Drivers here.