Cars and Driving
A Key Decision
When a Loved One Shouldn’t Drive
By Paris Wolfe
The unexplained scratches and dents on Grandpa’s beige Crown Victoria made it obvious the time had come for him to give up driving. But he didn’t want to part with his independence and control. He resisted until back pain kept him from the steering wheel.
Grounding an adult isn’t easy. And with a large aging population — more than 2 million licensed drivers 85 years old and over — an increasing number of caretakers are facing that task.
A Decision with Dignity
“Chronological age isn’t a predictor of driving ability,” says Lori Cook, safety adviser for AAA East Central. “You don’t reach a magic age and stop. What counts is performance, physical and mental. I’ve seen people drive into their 90s.”
Many folks, she says, are self-regulating when they perceive diminished ability. “As we get older and wiser, we realize that speeding doesn’t get us anywhere faster,” Cook says. Other adaptations she sees are driving only during daylight as well as avoiding bad weather, heavy traffic and freeways.
“It’s not innate that people will know when to stop,” says Anne Vanderbilt, CNS, CNP, a clinical nurse specialist with the Cleveland Clinic Department of Geriatric Medicine. “Driving is complex because it’s so much of our independence and identity and autonomy.”
Signs that it’s time to minimize or stop driving include:
- Experiencing frequent minor accidents or near misses
- Being honked at frequently for being too slow or taking too long to turn
- Having difficulty reading ordinary road signs
- Being spoken to about your driving by the police, family or friends
- Getting lost on familiar roads
An eye exam and new glasses or a wide-angled rear view mirror might help. But if dementia requires a GPS to navigate everyday destinations, it’s time to surrender the keys, Cook says....
Leasing a car is a popular option for many of us. Others steer clear because they fear what will happen at the end of the lease contract.
It doesn’t need to be stressful if you understand your options. You will get a ton of mail saying that the dealership can release you from your lease six months early or that “they want your car.” That’s not usually true.
I call that “fly fishing.” Car dealers spend a lot of money to send advertisements and letters to customers to see who is going to bite. There are occasions when a leaseholder can get out of a contract about three months early, but it depends on the bank, the buyout and the condition of the vehicle.
Depending on condition, market demand and miles on a vehicle, some retain much of their value throughout a lease period. The dealer can wholesale or trade in the vehicle at the end of the lease for more than the residual amount printed in the lease contract.
This benefits consumers who lease because that retained equity can go toward another lease or back into their pocket.
Some manufacturers waive payments or have so-called pull-ahead programs to keep customers loyal to a carmaker. It’s important to clarify that some payments really are being waived and not just rolled into another lease or loan. This is a marketing ploy some dealers use, often as seasonal promotions.
Many manufacturers have damage waivers in the contracts. Check on damage waiver allowances before spending money on repairs prior to the vehicle turn-in deadline.
Consider getting the lease-end inspection if the manufacturer offers it ahead of time. This inspection, completed before turning in a leased vehicle, is usually by a third party and is free of charge. The person doing the service will come to you....
Some of us like shopping for a new car. The other 99 percent of us, not so much. Bring along some confidence on your next trip to the car lot. A little bit of knowledge can save a lot of money.
TO GET STARTED
Know your budget, your credit score and what is important to you in a car before you walk into a dealership. This will help you keep from getting sidetracked; you don’t want to come home with a vehicle that’s outside your budget, pay an inflated interest rate or get a car that is not what you wanted.
Always buy or lease based on the sale price of the vehicle. You may spend more money if you make a decision because the monthly payment seems low. Run the numbers and compare car prices. If the payments end up being too high for your budget, it’s the wrong car for you.
AND REMEMBER …
Take a friend along so that you don’t get caught up in the excitement of a deal that is outside of your comfort zone. Don’t make financial decisions under the influence of emotion.
Don’t put a lot of money down on a lease. First payment and plates is all you should write a check for. Keep your money liquid for important expenses. If you have a trade-in, put it toward the purchase of the car. Leasing? Take the check and bank it.
Always have a used car inspected by your mechanic. It can save you time and money, even if the dealership has certified that the car is mechanically sound.
Take the car home overnight. A 20-minute test drive won’t tell you how comfortable you are with the size, feel and maneuverability of the car.
When you go into the finance office to sign papers, remember: You are buying or leasing a vehicle....