Your elderly mother’s car is over 10 years old and needs some costly repairs to keep it running. Mom’s reflexes aren’t what they used to be, and she has trouble turning her head due to some chronic neck pain. As a result, you think replacing her vehicle with a safer and more reliable one might be a wise investment. Where should you start? Helping an aging parent find a safe and reliable car will go more smoothly when you use these tips.

New or Used?

The first step is sitting down with mom to determine what she can afford. Brand new vehicles have more safety features, but also come with heftier payments and insurance premiums. Unless mom has a large nest egg, it’s probably best to find her a reliable used car with low mileage that’s under five years old.

Safety Features

Many seniors have health issues that make driving challenging, like poor eyesight, slow reaction times, hearing loss, neck pain and trouble gripping the wheel because of arthritis. Vehicle safety innovations have come a long way in the past few years, so look for a car with some of these features:

Back Up Camera

This is useful for drivers with limited range-of-movement.

Automatic Braking

Causes the car to stop when it senses an object being approached too quickly.

Lane Warnings

An audible warning sounds when the car drifts into another lane.

Brake Locking System

Makes the vehicle brake automatically if the driver’s foot accidentally comes off the pedal, like at a stop light.

All-Around Airbags

Newer cars come with front, side, knee and even rollover airbags to protect the occupants.


Can mom see easily all around the car when sitting behind the wheel? This makes a big difference when backing out of parking spaces or merging onto the highway. Does she feel comfortable while sitting in the driver’s seat, including distance from the steering wheel and seat height? Can she easily adjust the mirrors?

Collision Protection

To find out how well a car withstands an impact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA; maintains a crash test database for vehicles manufactured every year.

Some vehicles have extra bells and whistles that could distract elderly drivers, like movie screens and fancy navigation systems. Those are probably features your mother should avoid.

How Reliable is it?

Whether it’s looking at a car from a private seller, dealer or online, it’s natural to have some reservations about its reliability. To alleviate those concerns, use these steps:

Inspect it Yourself

Do a walk-around and check the tires, body for signs of collision repairs, and underneath for suspicious fluid stains on the pavement. Pop the hood and inspect the engine for signs of leaks and excessive wear-and-tear. If your initial inspection goes well, pay your mechanic to give it a “once-over” just to be sure.

Pull up the VHR

Many sellers provide free Carfax or AutoCheck vehicle history reports (VHR), but if not pay for one yourself. The VHR will reveal if the car was involved in any serious accidents, if the title is “clear”, number of past owners, and even maintenance records if it was taken to a shop that reports.

What do Others Say?

Consumer Reports and J.D. Power provide reliability data and average annual operating costs based on a vehicle’s make, model and year. You can also read online consumer reviews to learn what drivers of a specific car, or the mechanics that work on them, have to say.

Take it for a Test Drive

With you in the passenger seat, let mom take the car out for a spin. Choose a route that offers a little bit of everything, like hills, rough pavement, curves and even a wide-open stretch of highway. Turn off the radio and listen for any strange noises. Does it shift, ride and handle smoothly?

Safe and Reliable Transportation for At-Home Seniors

Finding a safe and reliable car for an aging parent can be frustrating, and sometimes it might be safer for them to turn over their car keys for good. If your senior needs some transportation, call Cranberry Home Care. Our fully licensed and carefully screened caregivers will get them where they need to go, safely and reliably. While in their home, our well-trained aides can also perform duties like light housework, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders and companionship.

And, all our daily living assistance services can be flexibly tailored in an affordable package to put your mind at ease. To schedule a FREE in-home consultation in the Middleboro, MA, area, or to learn more about the senior transportation services Cranberry Home Care offers, please visit: now!