How to Get to Know Your New Car


Car companies spend a lot of time creating handbooks and complain that too few owners read them and therefore many ‘faults’ are remedied by telling the owner what page it’s on. Time reading the car’s handbook is not wasted. It enables you to get the best from your investment by using its systems properly and tells you how to care for it.

Take something as simple as folding the rear seat. The whole seat may be split in sections, or just the back. The cushion may have to be tilted forwards before folding the back, it may drop down automatically with the back or it might be fixed. If the cushion lifts, you may have to release a catch, lift it at the front first or simply pull the back edge up. The seatback might be released with buttons on its top edge that push in or pull out or there may be a lever to pull somewhere else on the seat or even near the tailgate or side door and any of these releases may be lockable. It might fold with the head restraints in place or you might have to remove them before folding it and if you do there may be special stowage for them. All this is explained in the handbook yet service departments speak of people who have broken seat releases by forcing them the wrong way because that’s the way they went in their old car.

New Car How to Get to Know Your New Car

Safety first

Handbooks also give information important for your safety. Not only do they tell you how to use safety systems, but they flag up any potential risks that might damage you or the car. These range from the obvious, like keeping hands out of the spinning cooling fan, to the not so obvious like not putting stickers over airbag positions, which can seriously affect their deployment. Knowing how to use the child locks on the back doors could merely save you the embarrassment of not being able to get out of your own car or it could save your child’s life.

Memory aid

Handbooks have to cover a whole model range and it can help to cross out sections not relevant to your car, like bits about diesels when you have a petrol or stereos different to that fitted in yours. You don’t have to learn it by heart, just take in the important stuff and make yourself aware of what is in there so that if, say, you have to change a wheel you’ll know there was something about locking wheel nuts to look up.

Don’t expect to remember all the functions on complex audio or navigation equipment. What works for many people, with any complex equipment, is to read the handbook, use the device for a while to familiarise yourself with the basic operations. On the second reading you will have more idea of how it works so can take in the more advanced features.

It can help to sit in the car while you read because you can confirm the locations of switches, explore how something works and when you find something that can be programmed to suit your preferences you can do it then and there.

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