New cars are laden with technology, yet few of us use all the gadgets and functions that come with a modern car to make our lives easier and safer. One of the reasons for this is that when we collect the car from the dealership or get it delivered, we just want to get in and drive off.
A recent survey by the AA revealed that despite new gadgets becoming increasingly common in cars their use is anything but common-place. For example one third of new cars have adaptive cruise control, but where it’s fitted only a third of drivers use it.
To use the all the functions in your new car, first of all you need to know about them. One of the best ways to learn what your car can do is to have a proper handover from the supplying dealer.
All good dealers will offer a full handover and the better ones will have a dedicated specialist or team of specialists whose job it is to know everything about the vehicles. Some brands have copied the Apple shop staffing systems and called them product geniuses.
When you’re going for a vehicle handover, or having the handover on your driveway, make sure you set aside enough time for this. That could mean you’ll need to set aside an hour as a minimum, but with more complex cars it could be double that.
However, if you don’t have the time, there and then, or the excitement level set to ‘must drive new car’ you can always request a chat at a later date. In fact, if a product genius is available within the dealership they may suggest a follow-up meeting to run through any questions that may pop-up after you’ve had the car for a week or two.
In an age of instant gratification, with everything online, reading the manual may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s at least worth a quick flick.
Yes, some of the car manufacturers put some instructional videos online to watch, but the car’s paper manual is still a great and under-used resource that comes with every car.
There are a couple of key things to look up.
The first is your tyre pressures so that you can check the car’s arrived with tyres inflated correctly. The second is the location of the spare tyre or, more likely, the foam repair kit. Hopefully you’ll never need these, but knowing where they are could help in an emergency and the least time spent looking up information in a stressful situation, the better.
Connectivity tech within new cars is only going to get better, which is why it’s essential to install the manufacturer’s app and register to use it.
Most brands now have an app that will connect to their latest models. And they’re essential for EVs so you can monitor the state of charge.
However, the apps offer so much more. Typical functionality will include checking if your car is locked (along with automated alerts if you forget to do this), headlights left on, pre-heating or cooling the cabin and sending satnav destinations to the car.
Many will also record trips and fuel consumption which can be handy when claiming expenses for business miles.
The app may also allow you to book your servicing or find charge points.
Set another hour aside to go through the car’s settings when you’ve finished your first drive of your new car.
Some cars have very little in the way of settings you can choose, but if you’ve got an infotainment screen, chances are there are settings you may want to change, leave alone or just know about for future reference.
If you systematically work through the menus, you’ll not only know where every function is so you can find things later, but you may just unearth tech that you didn’t know was on the car.
The systems may also let you adjust aspects of the car such as how the locks work; plip to unlock all or plip to unlock just the driver’s door.
With higher specification and premium cars you could find you’re able to adjust or set automation for parking sensors, memory seats, interior light colour and satnav preferences.
The final tip is then to try out the myriad of functions on your new car. The AA’s survey shows that the functions that get used most are the ones that are automatically on, such as auto wipers and auto lights, which would suggest that perhaps the other functions don’t get used because people have just not tried them before.
So if you’ve got adaptive cruise control, why not give it a go to see if you like it?
The same goes for automated parking and lane departure warning systems.
If you’ve paid for it, why not use it?