Our “Smartest Car” spots have that typical NAPA flair for humor, making light of the grandiose presentations of new-car technology in ads and media. It’s true that the automotive landscape has changed quickly over the past decade or so. Hybrid and electric cars have gained a foothold in the mainstream, and automakers are widely including technologies like smartphone integration and GPS. Even self-driving cars are predicted to become commonplace soon.
Still, the average automobile in the U.S. is more than 11 years old. That means plenty of older vehicles remain roadworthy, thanks in part to careful maintenance and repair by owners and the service professionals they trust. Jokes aside, keeping those cars and trucks in safe running order really is smart. And compared to replacing them with brand new vehicles, it’s almost always the more affordable choice.
Not every whiz-bang new-car feature automakers introduce is truly helpful. When the novelty of that complex touchscreen air conditioning control wears off, you may yearn for the days of a simple pair of dials, one for the temperature and one for the fan.
Other modern features offer greater benefit, including improved comfort, convenience and safety. A backup camera is a good example. Fortunately, you can affordably equip the vehicle you already own with a backup camera attached to the license plate mounts, giving you a clear view to line up a trailer or just back out of a parking space in a busy lot.
GPS navigation is another relatively recent innovation that drivers have come to depend on. But while automakers package navigation as high-priced options, the rest of us rely on the ubiquitous smartphone to guide local and long-distance trips, both. Mapping and traffic apps for smartphones are often more reliable and up-to-date than the map data of onboard GPS units. Instead of buying a new car with an expensive, soon-to-be-obsolete navigation system, invest in a sturdy phone mount for a tiny fraction of the cost.
Automotive lighting is another area where automakers are pushing into new territory. The trend is likely to stick: new LED lights are brighter, more energy efficient and longer-lasting than traditional incandescent bulbs that have been the standard for a century. You may not need a new car to benefit, though. LED replacement bulbs are already available for a range of applications like turn signals and tail lights.
Before you head to the dealership wowed by the latest, “smart” new car or truck, consider how the vehicle you already own may be a better fit and the smartest choice for you. If you love what you’ve got but see room for improvement, consider some simple and affordable add-ons that might improve your experience behind the wheel.
Make your car the smartest car by visiting: www.NAPAOnline.com
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.