Driving should be fun. Part of making it fun is making sure that you are as comfortable as possible. Very few people actually take the time to stop and focus on improving the cockpit comfort of their vehicle.
The first step is properly adjusting your seat. While sitting in the seat move it all the way forward and then all the way back. Lower it as low as it will go and then raise it as high as it will go. Experience the full range of the seat. Do the same for all the other seat controls including lumbar. Just knowing this full range and finding your sweet spot will dramatically improve your driving comfort.
Start with the height of the seat. Find a comfortable height that gives you full view of the road balanced with full view of your dash gauges. Never sacrifice proper view of the road, your mirrors or gauges for comfort.
Move the seat in so that you have good control the floor pedals. Placing your heel comfortably on the floor and the ball of your foot comfortably on the pedals. You should not have to straighten your leg or move away from the seatback to push the brake pedal all the way to the floor.
Because there’s always a possibility of an air bag deployment, it’s important to have at least 25 centimetres between the centre of the steering wheel and the centre of your chest. For shorter people this may be more difficult to achieve. Some vehicles have power adjustable pedals that allow you to move them closer towards you. Your vehicle may also have back-and-forth movement as well as up-and-down movement of the adjustable steering. This will allow you to position yourself a safe distance from the airbags.
Adjust the recline angle of the seat to approximately a 100-degree angle to decrease pressure on the lower back.
The height of the headrest should be positioned so that it’s just above the height of your eyelids. It should rest in the middle of your head. Having more than six cm between your head and the headrest dramatically increases your risk of whiplash in the event of a crash
Set the adjustment of your lumbar so that you have comfortable and even back support.
Most cars allow you to adjust the tilt of the seat cushion to support your legs. Generally a tilt of approximately 110 degrees is a good place to start. Make slight adjustments from there to improve comfort while maintaining proper control of pedals.
Use your adjustable steering controls to position the steering wheel in a spot that is comfortable and still gives your full view of the dash gauges. You may have been taught years ago to hold your hands and 10 o’clock and two o’clock. Try holding them at nine o’clock and three o’clock. This generally is more comfortable on longer drives.
Proper adjustment of your seatbelt is another very important factor in comfort. The lap belt should be set as snug and as low as possible, around the pelvic area and not the belly. The shoulder strap usually has an up-and-down adjustment located on the door frame. Try moving it as high and as low as it will go and find the sweet spot for you so that the strap rests in the middle of your shoulder.
Now adjust your mirrors so that you have proper view of the road. They should be adjusted so that you don’t need to move your head much when checking them.
Now that you’ve got everything just perfect make sure to set the memory if your vehicle has that option. Many vehicles allow you to set two different memories for two different drivers. It can be either be control buttons in the vehicle or a specific key that automatically returns everything to your settings. If your vehicle does not have this option and others drive your vehicle it can get pretty frustrating.
Many vehicles today have lots of dash information and adjustments. These can be both in the dash instrument cluster and also on the in dash screen if your vehicle has this option. Taking the time to learn about them will really improve your driving experience. Being comfortable using things like navigation and hands free phone controls will not only make your driving a more comfortable experience but also a much safer one.
Get your favorite coffee and go park somewhere nice and spend some time just fiddling with everything until you’re comfortable with all of it. Your dealer would also be happy to have you come back in for a refresher, to go over it all again, or answer any questions you may have.
Spend some quality time getting to know all the controls and adjustments on your vehicle.
Catch Driving with Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to Jens Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook or Twitter: @drivingwithjens