Getting Used to a New Car

Driving a car other than the one you are used to can be a bit of a shock. Whether you have just learned to drive, and your new vehicle will be the first car that you have driven other than the one that you learned in, or you’ve had several vehicles over a longer driving career - driving a different car can be a shock to the system. We get used to our cars. We instinctively know where all the buttons and controls are. We have them set up just right and find them comfortable. We don’t have to think about driving; it just comes naturally. In a new car, suddenly you have to think about everything, and everything feels different. During this transitional period, we’re more likely to make mistakes on the road. Our confidence can take a knock, our reactions might be slower, and we’re less likely to trust our instincts. The faster you can get used to your new car, the better. 

Go for a Test Drive
If possible, going for a test drive before you buy a car can be a great idea. It gives you a feel of the vehicle, and a chance to compare it to what you already drive. Sure, it’s only a short drive, and you’ll still have a period of adjustment, but at least you’ll know what to expect. And remember, you’re under no obligation to buy the car that you’ve tested. 

Buy the Right Car
Buying the right car can make the whole process much easier. Think about what you like about your current or previous cars, or even what you liked about the car that you learned to drive in. It’s also a good idea to think about the things that you have disliked in other cars before looking for a new vehicle. Take a look at a Used Ford Focus for an affordable and comfortable car, but in general, try to find something with all of the pros and none of the cons, and driving it should be a pleasure. 

Learn the Layout Before Your Drive
Using auxiliary controls, such as turning on your air conditioning or adjusting the temperature, while you are driving is probably something that comes naturally to you in your current car. You know where everything is without thinking. You can quickly make changes on the road while sitting in traffic or waiting at the lights. In a new car, this muscle memory is lost. You might even have to think before changing gears or using your indicators. This can put you in danger, and delay your reflexes, as well as making you feel uncomfortable. You’ll get used to it all quickly once you are driving normally, but give yourself a head start by sitting in the cockpit and learning the layout before you start to drive. 

Read the Manual
Some of the controls in your new car will be different, and it’s worth giving the manual a good once over, while you are sitting in the car and can press buttons and test things out. Then, keep it close to hand, in case you need it in the future. 

Make Some Adjustments, and Keep Adjusting
You’ll also need to make plenty of adjustments to your seat and mirrors in those first few weeks. Spend as long as you need getting set up, then go for a short drive around the block to check that everything feels and looks right. You might have to make more adjustments as you settle into driving, so be prepared for it to take a while to feel right. 

Practise on a Familiar Route
If you are nervous about driving a different car, make things easier by practising on very familiar roads without traffic. Enjoy going out for a drive and getting to grips with things, perhaps on a Sunday morning when the streets are quiet. You might even want to do a few laps of a carpark. 

Give Yourself Time
It’s all too common to make fundamental mistakes or find yourself driving more slowly in an unfamiliar car, so don’t rush. Give yourself extra time to complete journeys, and don’t get frustrated with yourself if you stall occasionally. 

Practise Manoeuvres
Day to day, you might not perform all those manoeuvres that you learned in your driving lessons, perhaps aside from reversing into a bay. But, they do come up, and they will feel very different in a different car. So find a quiet street with lots of space and practise these too. Again, you might make mistakes, don’t get frustrated.