Getting a new car is always exciting but it can also be a bit of a challenge to get used to. As well as learning to use new technology, small layout changes such as the reverse gear being in a different place can be confusing as you go for your first few drives. A new car might also feel different on the road and even things like finding the headlights can be tricky. So, while getting a new car every three years with the Motability Scheme is never a bad thing, we thought it might be useful to look and some top tips on how to get used to your new car and enjoy it safely.
Getting to know the tech
Before even thinking about driving a brand-new car, it is really important to get to know the gadgets and technology you will need to drive safely. For example, it might unexpectedly start raining while you’re driving and you don’t know how to turn on your windscreen wipers.
To avoid a potentially dangerous situation like this, before you drive for the first time, it’s a good idea to sit in the car in a safe place like a driveway or parking space and play around with all of the features. Find the lights, mirror adjustment toggle and steering rake adjust lever. Spend some time getting the seating position just right and make sure you can see properly.
You may also find it useful to check any adaptations you may have fitted feel comfortable, too. It is also a good idea to take this opportunity to sync up your phone if you have Bluetooth, work out the sat nav and the all-important sound system or infotainment screen. These things aren’t safe to do while driving so doing it beforehand is critical.
Do you need to break in the engine?
A few years ago, new cars had to be broken in. This meant that the engine had to be used very gently for 100 miles or more (below 15 mph sometimes) before it could be driven normally. This allowed the oil to flow and generally made sure nothing was going to break under strain of regular driving.
A number of years ago cars used to have to display a sign saying they were being broken in and advising other drivers to overtake. Thankfully, these days all that is done in the factory, so it is a bit of a myth that any new car needs breaking in. That being said, it is important to check the owners manual because some brands do suggest a very short period of driving at a slightly lower speed. It is worth noting that most cars come with delivery miles on them so this will have already been done.
Getting to know how it drives
The stereo is working, your phone is all hooked up and the seating position is perfect—now it’s time to hit the road. But drive very carefully the first few times you take it out. A new car will feel different and could well respond differently to things like wet roads or hill starts.
It really is handy to try and find an empty car park or similar (perhaps with a friend or relative) to drive around for a few minutes getting used to the clutch or an automatic gearbox. Try reverse parking too, as rear visibility or learning to use reversing cameras can be some of the biggest challenges for drivers when it comes to new cars. It is also advisable to try a very minor emergency stop in a safe place. Knowing how the brakes feel is very important because you never know when you may have to use them heavily.
Once you’ve done these tests, take the car on a familiar route such as a roundabout you know well, a slip road or a dual carriageway you feel comfortable on. Using a new car in familiar places will help you get a good feel for any differences and help you get used to them.
Enjoy your car but give it time
Taking some time to get to know your car will not only be safer, but it will also allow you to enjoy it more too. So while new engines don’t really need breaking in and nor does the car itself, the adjustment is more for you as the driver as you adjust to new brakes, clutches, steering and all that new technology. Set a few hours aside and enjoy getting to know your new ride.
The Motability Scheme enables you to exchange all or part of your mobility allowance for leasing a car, mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, with the option of getting a new vehicle every three years. Find out more about joining the Scheme and browse the cars available on the Scheme.