Choose the Right Ride: Your Life is Changing; Your Needs are Different

By Deborah R. Huso

| Photographs By Darrell Hoemann

Like your other retirement plans, there’s no one right answer for the type of vehicle that makes the most sense. Still, it pays to buy smart.

With the average cost of car ownership hitting your wallet at $8,000 a year, decisions about what car you drive and how you maintain it translate to real money.

Ask yourself whether retirement will include long road trips, short jaunts around town or a mix — and whether you live in an area with public transit or senior transport options. You’ll also want to consider the cost for maintaining your current vehicle versus buying new.

Boost confidence in your decision with these buying tips from USAA.


Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at for its list of the safest vehicles. Use the USAA Car Buying Service to find the best car at the best price. Members have saved an average of $3,335 off MSRP with the service.


Guard against unplanned repair bills and save with USAA’s extended vehicle protection plan.


A sport or luxury car can be tempting but pricey. Consider owning something less flashy and renting your dream car for weekend getaways. Car rental discounts are offered for USAA members.


Follow your car’s maintenance schedule to prolong its life and get the most from your investment.

See if you pre-qualify and get a loan before you buy your next auto.

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Photo caption: Sammy Lee Davis, member since 2016, says keeping up with maintenance is important with any car he purchases. “You want it to last for years,” he adds.

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USAA Car Buying Service provided by TrueCar, Inc. USAA Bank receives marketing fees in connection with the Car Buying Service.

Extended Vehicle Protection is not underwritten/issued by USAA or its affiliates. USAA Extended Vehicle Protection VSC Program is provided by United Service Protection Corp., Assurant Service Protection, Inc. (OK), and United Service Protection, Inc. (FL) (FL Lic. # 6001600), each an Assurant Solutions company. USAA Extended Vehicle Protection Mechanical Breakdown Insurance is underwritten by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida (AK, KY, MA, MI and OR) and American Security Insurance Company (CA), each an Assurant Solutions company. The third-party underwriting/issuing this coverage has sole financial responsibility for its own products. Mechanical breakdown insurance offered through USAA Insurance Agency, Inc. or USAA of Texas Insurance Agency. CA Lic. # 0D78305, TX Lic. # 7096. Enrolling or not enrolling in the Extended Vehicle Protection Program will have no effect on any credit application or terms of credit with USAA. Once your vehicle purchase is complete, your contract will be mailed to you, and you will have 60 days to notify the relevant Assurant Solutions company if you wish to cancel and receive a full refund. The contract contains additional information, including the terms, conditions, eligibility requirements and exclusions that could prevent you from receiving benefits. Please read the contract carefully for a full explanation of your benefits. Company and state-specific information is subject to change. USAA Relocation Services, Inc. receives marketing fees in connection with the Extended Vehicle Protection VSC Program.