For something that costs so much money to buy and maintain, cars can be incredibly uncomfortable. Not just physically, but in terms of convenience and “creature comforts.” This isn’t always the case—manufacturers do invest a lot of money into ergonomics, fancy extras, and quality materials. But, they also have to balance those concerns with safety, economics, and varying tastes across their markets. As a result, the driving experience can sometimes feel lacking for the individual.
But what if you could fix that? What if you could amp up your driving experience, tailor it to your individual needs, and make your car as comfortable as your apartment or bedroom? Well, there’s good news: you can! It just takes knowing what to look for.
Creating a comfortable driving experience means different things to different people. And, courtesy of the unholy union of a car gadget market stacked with useless junk, the lack of readily available advice on enhancing the comfort of your vehicle, and the fact that some just view their car as a way to get from point A to point B, many people can’t figure out where to start making their car comfortable.
That’s why we’ve created this. It’s a primer on some things you can do to make your driving experience more comfortable, convenient, and—dare I say—fun. It could even leave you wanting to drive more often, spending hours on the weekend riding through the hills. Some of these seem shockingly—almost stupidly—simple. It’s part of the reason people overlook them. Others, you may not know were available.
Either way, you should be able to come away from this article with at least one thing you can do to make driving more pleasant for you and your passengers.
Get A Trash Bag
It’s easy for trash to start piling up in your car. Just seeing those empty coffee cups and old shopping bags can break your calm. Worse—they could have grime that’ll wind up in the upholstery if you’re not careful. That’s to say nothing of how they look to a passenger.
The best way to deal with this is to stop it at the source. And the best way to do that is simple—have a trash can in your car, within reach of the driver’s seat.
Note that this doesn’t have to be something you pick up at O’Reily’s for $20. Instead, reuse old shopping bags and hang them over the headrest of the front passenger seat. It’s an easy, cheap solution that lets you reuse old bags.
Live Somewhere Hot? Get a Steering Wheel Cover
This is especially useful for new drivers, or the many who’ve moved to warmer climates. Do not underestimate how hot hard surfaces can get in the summer. Some places get hot enough for them to cause minor burns. And even when they aren’t? It’s uncomfortable and sweaty to be holding onto a hot wheel for long periods of time. It can also kill your grip.
Think of it this way: outside of the seat, there’s nothing else you’ll be touching more in that car. So, make sure your connection to it is secure and comfortable.
Figure Out What You Like Listening to During a Drive
Driving can get lonely and boring after a while. Having something to listen to helps cut that silence and replace it with something enjoyable.
The thing is, what you like listening to while driving may not be what you like listening to elsewhere. For one, driving puts you in a different mood. Second, the ambient sounds of the wind and the engine could make certain things hard to hear.
As such, good listening while driving partly comes from knowing what you want to listen to. Can you hear your favorite podcast or comedian while you drive? Or is it time to listen to something louder? Or maybe you need something peaceful to help deal with the stress of driving. Either way, it’s useful to make playlists and, if possible, download them. And don’t underestimate the value of podcasts or audio books. Their longer format makes them great for blasting through a long drive or being stuck in traffic.
Tune Your Stereo Settings (On Your Phone, Too)
There are so many things to listen to—even if we just look at music—that it’s impossible for any one stereo system to be balanced for all uses. And the “neutral” settings will take the edge off of everything you listen to.
So, before you decide, fully, on what you want to listen to, you should take some time to play with the audio settings in your car. Most every vehicle will at least allow you to change the bass and treble, if not more. And if you have a smart-phone, you can balance this by playing with the mixing settings on your phone… even if it requires downloading an app. Note that this will take some trial and error. You’ll need to play with the settings, drive, listen to how it sounds, and adjust accordingly.
But, once you get it right, it’ll make your listening experience worlds better.
Take Some Time to Play With Your Seat, Too
If you’re in your car for any extended period of time (say, a half hour commute), back and neck issues become a serious issue. Maybe it’s because you lean forward to see better, or because the seat is tilting almost imperceptibly back.
Regardless of why, too many people overlook the value of precisely adjusting your seat. They make sure they can see the mirrors, reach the wheels and pedals, and call it there. But, the fact is that fine-tuning your seat can turn it into one of the most comfortable chairs you own. You’ll need to pay attention to your own physical quirks to do this, but it’s well-worth the time.
Got Leather Seats? Get Car Seat Covers
I, personally, am not a fan of seat covers on a general basis. They’re useful for keeping gunk out of your seats, sure, but trying too hard on that can be a Sisyphean task, given everything that happens in a car. But if you have leather seats, that’s a different story. Leather, despite its beauty, is not a comfortable material. Especially in the heat. Once it starts cracking, it gets worse.
So, the easiest way to fix this is to buy cheap seat covers, and keep yourself from touching the leather directly. Your once-sweaty back will thank you.
Any Last Suggestions?
Yes! Every driver has their own quirks. And there are so many ways you can improve your ride. So, the best way to tailor your ride for you is to be mindful and ask yourself a simple question: “what’s the most annoying part of the driving experience for me?” When you have the answer, you can work on solving it. Once solved, you can move on to the next thing.
Do this over and over, and you’ll find your car becoming more and more of a personalized experience. If you’re lucky, maybe the options above already took care of them for you.
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