Nowadays car manufacturing companies try to outdo the others not only in their pricing strategy but also the in the number of features that they offer. Often many times the deal breaker happens to be a certain feature, though entirely useless later on. Many a times customers opt for sunroofs in a car. Now tell me how can a sunroof help your car in India other than the looks factor plus that all important expensive tag? It doesn’t. Some companies like Honda look to fleece a customer by adding a sunroof for a princely sum of Rs 40k. Think of it, half the time no one even bothers to open the sunroof plus even with a sunroof closed, the AC has to work extra time to cool down the cabin. Heated seats is another option that most of the European and American car manufacturers are throwing at Indians. Now tell me one thing. India is such a hot and humid country. Why would anyone like to have heated seats in here beats logic. Only if you live in a certain place called as Kashmir, then may be you would require heated seats however not for a long time, I guess. A car’s heating system is more than enough to acclimatize itself to the cold outside. Roof rails come in next in the list of unwanted features. Agreed, they look sporty and would even project a youthful image of the driver seated inside but how many times have they served their actual purpose and that is to carry around ski racks or bicycles. First of all, India hasn’t developed so much that we can afford to carry out this recreational activities and moreover if anyone thinks that fitting a carrier onto a car without roof rails cannot be achieved, then they are wrong. Carriers can be fitted even without roof rails. A simple roof rail on a hatchback would cost close to close Rs 3k.
Next up would be the cruise control. This feature would be very useful in areas where there are long stretches of roads however in India, it doesn’t hold any sense. That is if you aren’t living in Rajasthan. This feature is useless for India and though this may give the Laura owner better bragging rights than the cheaper Optra, it makes no sense. Which moron wouldn’t know in which gear he is? I am sure everyone would be knowing in which gear they are driving currently. Exception would be new learners off course. Well, many manufacturers are nowadays providing gear indicators which would tell you to upshift to optimize your fuel efficiency and put less load on the car’s engine and transmission system. However this shouldn’t be deal breaker where one goes to a show room to buy the particular car.
Well, you must be wondering now as to why the title says something and Lijo is saying something else. Well, I am coming to the crux of the article now. First and foremost would be the safety related goodies that one should always look out while buying a car.
ABS or antilock braking system :
One small car which started offering this essential feature was the Maruti Swift in 2005. Since then, many manufacturers have caught on this trend and are offering this feature in almost even their entry level offerings, as an option. What ABS does is prevent wheel lockup during panic braking. This allows the driver to steer or swerve the car safely during panic braking thus avoiding collisions or accidents. However many do take ABS as a safety feature which would avoid collisions. Please bear in mind that it is only a safety feature present to prevent collisions and the one driving the car is actually responsible in avoiding hook up situations. So driving carefully is also on the list.
Traction control or TCS :
This system actually uses the ABS and helps to control or detect the wheel spin. Individual sensors monitor the speed of each wheel and then if the system detects a wheel is rotating faster than the other, then it pulses the brake on the faster moving wheel so that power is transferred onto the wheel with a better traction on-board. On wet or slick surfaces, traction control goes a long way and especially so when the car is just taking off from rest position. Performance vehicles usually have an option to turn off the traction control as enthusiastic drivers would want some slide action coming in. If and when the system is disabled, a waning light would show up on the instrument panel, which would warn the driver not to indulge in extreme hooligan activities. Unless and until the driver activates the switch again, the system would stand disabled. However working of ABS isn’t affected by the disabling of TCS. Traction control cannot increase traction on a surface but regulate the wheel spin which helps give a feel good feeling while driving.
Crash sensors wired to an on-board computer set off an airbag during a collision. The front airbag inflates automatically to prevent the occupants from hitting the dashboard, windshield or even the steering wheel. Side airbags reduce the risk of occupants injuring themselves against the door. Nowadays most of the manufacturers atleast keep airbags as an option and I as also the whole Indiandrives family would heartily recommend them.
Head restraints :
These are actually extensions of vehicle seats. Most of the people would confuse this with head rests however that’s not the actual purpose with which they are built. They are actually designed to restrict the movement of the head during a rear impact collision. By this, they reduce the chance of shoulder and neck injuries. Having a locking head restraint is very important. If the restraint is not locked in the right position, then during an accident, this may compromise on the amount of protection that this restraint can offer. The restraint must be atleast as high as one’s eyes and as close to the back of the head or as is comfortable. However it shouldn’t be set any lower than the ears. If the head restraint is low, there would be serious whiplash injuries to be dealt with, in the event of a rear end collision. After entering a car and before driving make sure that the head restraint is secure. Do this moreso if you happen to share your car as different people would have different adjusting styles.
Reverse parking sensors :
For small hatchbacks with a good visibility towards the rear, this isn’t a necessary feature but for the bigger sedans or hatchbacks, this is a absolute thumbs up. While many may jeer at the idea of a reverse parking sensor and would also comment that if you don’t know to reverse, you are better off with a chauffer. However not only has the traffic become more chaotic but also parking lots have become a chaotic spot. This means that let people say what they want to but you can invest in a rear parking sensor. A proximity sensor in the rear portion of the car senses when the vehicle gets too close to any object in its path. The system then warns the driver via a visual aid or either through beeps. This system is automatically engaged once the reverse gear is selected. The small sensors send and receive ultrasonic radio waves which bounce off obstacles and alert one to their presence. A must have costing approximately Rs 1k or 3k for the more advanced ones.
Fog Lamps :
To drive safely at night time or during foggy conditions, adequate lighting is necessary. Fog lamps are just the right thing which the doctor prescribed. They produce a low and wide beam of light which penetrates through the fog producing less glare and hence visibility improves manifold. Yellow, white or even blue fog lamps are available however the traditional yellow ones are considered as the best ones because they emit only one part of the light spectrum and hence scatter the light less. One can also opt for Xenon HID or halogen fog lights.
Rear Defogger :
Like the front windscreen, the rear one also gets fogged. However manufacturers conveniently tend to forget the rear ones. When the front defogger is activated, even the rear one gets activated. It clears the mist off the windows and hence maintains a good visibility. However if the car you are buying doesn’t come with one, then you are running into a potential safety hazard.
Adjustable seats :
Wouldn’t you want to be comfortable while driving? For that, you need an adjustable steering wheel and also seats. Most cars are designed keeping drivers who would be averagely built however those who are on the smaller or taller side of it conveniently get forgotten. The adjustable steering wheel and seats help in getting rid of this malady. Most of the cars are now offered with rake and reach adjustable steering wheel and also multiple ways of seating arrangement. Seat height adjustment helps the smaller or taller driver to be comfortable behind the wheel of the same car.
12 V power outlet :
While it was just yesterday that I listed out the multiple 12 v power outlet gadgets that one can fit, it is also essential that the car you are buying has this feature. Check out the car that you are buying has this feature or not. If it doesn’t then there are chances that your mobile phone would run out of power and you would be left stranded in the middle of nowhere. Though Indiandrives doesn’t promote talking on the front while driving, nevertheless, it is a comforting thing to know that you have a backup for your phone’s battery power. If your car has multiple power outlets, then needless to say, your co-passengers would be thrilled to know that they can plug in their Ipod or music players and listen to music while on the go.
These are some of the must have things in a car that we heartily recommend. Be it a small or big car, most of the features would be useful in both.