As inner-city areas become ever more crowded and more individuals and families move to the suburbs, long commutes to and from work are becoming a reality for more people every year. While driving for an hour or more every morning and evening can be trying at the best of times, your journeys will be a lot more pleasant and comfortable if you own a car well-suited to long driving sessions.
Consequently, if you're in the market for a used car, and you typically drive long distances to and from your place of work, you should pick out a model that will not tire you out or turn your spine to dust as you make your daily commute. To help steer you in the right direction, keep the following guidelines in mind.
Stick to automatic transmissions
Most new cars sold in Australia have automatic gearboxes, but manual transmissions are far more common in older vehicles, and if you're looking at used cars, you might be tempted to opt for manual transmission for the extra control and fuel economy it provides. However, driving a car with a manual gearbox requires more concentration and physical effort, which can become very tiring over long, monotonous motorway and highway drives. Choosing an automatic car with above-average fuel efficiency is generally a much safer bet.
Choose an efficient (but not too efficient) engine
On the topic of fuel economy, a V8 gas guzzler is hardly the most economical choice for long daily commutes, and cars with more modest, fuel efficient engines will be much cheaper to run on a daily basis.
However, in most cases you should not go too far and choose the car with the most efficient, weak and feeble engine you can find. The weaker the engine, the lower the speed at which it achieves maximum fuel economy, and thrashing a small engine at highway speeds for long periods can actually be less efficient (not to mention exhausting and noisy) than driving a more powerful car. Make sure that you take your chosen car out on the highway during your test drive to ensure it cruises easily at average highway speeds.
Opt for soft suspension
Cars with stiff suspension are great for manoeuvrability and responsiveness in urban driving conditions, but are decidedly uncomfortable for long, straight drives between towns and cities. Opting for a car with softer, forgiving suspension will make your daily commute much more comfortable, especially if the roads you usually take are rough and poorly paved.
Small wheels, big tyres
Big alloy rims with low profile tyres certainly look the part and are excellent for increasing manoeuvrability, but they are the bane of many a long-distance driver, increasing road noise while decreasing ride comfort. Smaller wheels with fatter tyres will be much quieter and can dramatically increase ride quality, even on smooth roads, making them a much more viable option for the long-distance commuter.
To check out used cars that will suit your commute, visit dealerships like Blue Ribbon Motors.
If, like me, you like to drive and are something of a petrol-head, then feeling confident is part of what it is all about when motoring. Knowing what to do if you face a hazard on the road or how to deal with a blowout is all part of the driving experience, to me. Having said that, few motorists really know what checks they should be making to ensure their car is properly roadworthy. I've spent the last few years upgrading my car maintenance skills and - although I'm no qualified mechanic - I now undertake all sorts of jobs needed to keep my car running properly and safely. Read my blog and pick up some car maintenance tips that anyone can do.