Driving and owning a car in the city doesn’t have to be a complete automotive nightmare; it only seems that way when you’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic bitten by the rage bug with thousands of fellow motorists by your side. Driving in a city can be convenient, cost effective, and even fun. Here are some ways to stay ahead of the traffic while maintaining a level of sanity.
Driving a massive SUV might give you the edge when it comes to getting above the traffic—feeling invincible is a plus as well—but all that heft and size has some downsides. Unless you’re extremely comfortable behind the wheel, the potential for blind spots, and sizing issues, is extremely prevalent in a big vehicle, which could lead to only more frustration. You don’t need to get a Smart car, but look at Civics, Cruzes, Darts, 2 Series, and the ilk that are smaller, more nimble and will give you the edge when you need to swiftly sail in the abyss that is city driving.
Okay, we’re not saying to grab your Club and pull a Tiger Woods, but driving with a little bit of vigor in the city can help you stay ahead of the pack. Drivers in most cities aren’t going to give you the go-ahead, so you have to be full of toughness in order to fight off the ornery operators. If you have a manual transmission car, stay in a lower gear to increase responsiveness of the engine to give you an added bonus of acceleration and deceleration should you need it. If you have an automatic, put it in sport mode or stay in a lower gear. More horsepower is your friend!
The less you have to worry about your car getting dinged, rear-ended, swiped, and dented, the less stress you’ll have navigating city blocks. There are plenty of options out there: Bumper Bully, Bumper Badger, Bumpshox, etc., that can be put on and off your car fairly easy. But most of all, they’ll give you a bit more peace of mind knowing that you’ll keep your car intact endlessly searching for the perfect parking spot or trying to get crosstown.
Depending on what type of driver you are: a go with the flow, or a “I must be moving at all costs” driver (we’re the latter), Waze will provide you with real-time traffic info to keep you on the move instead of stagnating in your car. Even if the traffic seems never ending, you still have the advantage with Waze’s ability to reroute on the fly and keep you (somewhat) sane.
Manual transmissions are extremely fun in most all situations, except possibly in standstill traffic. If you have calves of steel, the constant shifting might not give you any trouble, but if you’d rather concentrate on snaking the cars in front of you at the next light, an automatic will give you less of a headache. Stalling, worrying about which gear you’re in, or not wanting to deal with multiple gear shifts could deter you from becoming a proficient manual city driver. An auto will let you focus on driving, and not on shifting.
It may sound simple enough, but we’ve all left in a flash, forgotten to check the time, and then bam, you’re cursed with a traffic jam to kill your mood. Sometimes you can’t avoid leaving in a tizzy, but if you have the ability to plan ahead, avoid the dreaded morning and afternoon rush-hour woes. Sometimes it might only save you 10 minutes to leave at a different time, but those few precious minutes of constant movement mean a lifetime of automotive bliss.
If you’ve ever been in the hostile and stressful situation of parallel parking in a city where every second feels like a lifetime—especially a city you’re just getting familiar with—learning how to cram your car into a spot made for an ant is bar none one of the greatest accomplishments when done smoothly. Use those cones at the construction site for an impromptu parallel parking exercise so you can nail down the task in seconds. No one likes waiting for an Austin Powers moment.
Though a parking spot will cost an arm and a leg (usually, at least $250 a month), forgoing the hassle of finding a spot day in and day out provides a necessary break from the malicious monitors of the street corners. Having an attendant cater to your parking woes with a lot of your very own is an invigorating change in the daily routine if you can afford it.
Currently the full-time Editorial Director and Content Manager for RxSpeed.com, & contributing writer for Scout.com. He also loves photography, videography, his Shiba Inu Mia and driving sports cars.