Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


5 Must Have Accessories for Your Next Car - Vol.380

So, you've decided to buy a new car. One of the first things to do is to set a budget and look for cars within a certain price range. However, the first price you see for a car is the "starting at" price, which means it won't include a few, or even many, of its nicest features.

Actually, that depends on the brand. With some newer models, you can get an all-in-one package, while with others, each accessory adds a substantial amount to the base price. In any case, let's take a look at the features that will take your ride to a whole new level.

1. Adjustable High Beams
When riding during the night on some poorly lit roads, it is almost a necessity to turn on the high beams so you can clearly see what's ahead of you. However, you have to keep reminding yourself to switch to the low beams when another car is approaching. In fact, it can be quite troublesome to switch back and forth when a car passes you as often as every thirty seconds.

Fortunately, some companies have developed automatically adjustable high beams that detect when a car appears in front of you and automatically switch to the low beams. This way, you can just focus on the road and not run the risk of blinding other drivers.

2. Blind Spot Monitoring
Blind spots are tricky to deal with. Sometimes, another car gets into the area where they are no longer visible in your side view mirror, and they haven't reached your field of vision yet. This is the worst possible time to change lanes, but it may happen.

That is why blind spot monitoring systems were created. They detect when another vehicle gets into your blind spot and usually a warning light will glow in your side view mirror. Furthermore, if you are planning on changing lanes at that moment (using the turn signal), most systems usually have a more emphatic intervention. The light on the side view mirror will flash, the steering wheel will vibrate and you will hear a beeping sound.

3. Lane Departure Warning
Complementing the previous system, we have the lane departure warning. You may inadvertently start to veer away from your own lane for a variety of reasons. Maybe you've been riding long hours, and your concentration has started to wane or you are getting sleepy. Or even worse, you are not sleepy at all but you are checking out your smartphone!

Anyway, in most of these cases, the lane departure warning has you covered. It only acts if you don't have the indicator on, in which case it detects when your car starts to leave the center of the lane and alerts you through a sound or vibration. Some of the most recent systems (lane keep assist and lane centering assist) even proactively steer the car back to the center of the lane.

Remember, it is best not to put too much trust into this system, because it may not work very well if the markings on the road are faded.

4. Adaptive Cruise Control
Cruise control is great for those long rides where you want to keep a constant velocity below the speed limit without having to constantly check your speedometer and adjust the throttle. You just set it and forget it. Well, almost, because it does not brake on its own. At least, that was the case until adaptive cruise control came along.

With this enhancement, cruise control will automatically detect if a car in front of you is driving at a slower pace and automatically lower its speed to compensate so that you don't get caught off guard.

5. Android/iPhone Support
In a smartphone-dominated era, we had to include one such related feature. While we're driving, some of us simply can't help it but read that text we just received, or change the tune that's currently playing. People just don't realize the danger until an accident happens.

However, if there is just no way that you won't check your phone, you can now install Android and iPhone Apps (Android Auto and CarPlay) in a lot of newer models. They allow you to see your notifications on the dashboard, so that, at least, you keep your eyes on the road.