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Young adult’s guide to maintaining your first car

Having owned a car for a year, there’s a guide that should help you in the “after sales” process. I should have known these things when I bought it. And now that I’ve owned it for a while, I’ve learned a few things along the way.

  • Learn about financing and interest. If you make a big down payment or lump sum payments on your loan, you will end up paying less interest. If you can, get a deal with 0% interest. Yes, they do exist. Maybe only certain times of the year.
  • Spending money on a car is likely your first large purchase. You will spend a lot of time in it, so make sure you know what you want and what you need from a vehicle. Compare these points with your budget and figure out what kind of car is best for your unique situation. If you’re a commuter, like me, you will likely opt for a small, fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • If you settle for something that you don’t really want (e.g. exterior colour) the dealer & salesperson are likely to give you accessories for free. I wanted a blue car and settled for grey. Got some sweet winter mats and mud flaps. #winning.
  • It’s the most convenient to buy your car in the same city that you live in. Especially if you buy a stupid extra package that is only valid at that dealership. Just don’t buy those. Who knows where you will live in a year?
  • If you can choose the colour of your car, make sure you get the colour you want! Keep in mind that neutral colours have a better resale value.
  • It might also help your resale value if you keep a log of your oil changes and services on the last few pages of your owners manual.
  • When you first get home with your car and flip through your owners manual, write down the tire pressure and wheel torque and write them down on the first page of your manual. This will be helpful for changing the tires yourself.
  • Use the factory tires as summer tires, then spend the money on a sturdy set of winter tires. Learn how to change a tire, and buy the equipment to do it. You will save a ton of money DIY.
  • Service your brakes every time you change your tires from summer to winter. If you don’t know how to do it, either learn how or get your mechanic to do it during your next oil change.
  • Changing the cabin filter once a year is recommended. It costs around $60.
  • In the winter, don’t let your gas tank get below 1/4. You never know if you will get stranded in a freak snow/ice/sleet storm with freezing rain.
  • Get your oil changed when it’s due. Your car likes to be properly lubed.
  • Having a hard time removing salt stains from fabric in the spring? Mix 3:7 vinegar and water, and use an old rag (non-shedding) to clean off the salt. This method works, but leaves a nasty smell. Fabric freshener makes it better.
  • Keep the garbage out of your car! It’s a disgusting habit.
  • You’d be surprised how dirty your steering wheel gets. Think twice before eating and driving. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want whatever germs are on the gas pump handles on my food or in my mouth. Yuck!
  • If you have a dog, put a pet hammock for the back seat. You can get them at Walmart for $20. They’re puke- and pee-proof, do you need a better reason? They also contain ~90% of the fur.
  • Also those clip-on vent air fresheners work magic for pet odour. And boyfriend farts.
  • Keeping a plastic bag in your glove box is useful for many reasons, including picking up dog puke from your backseat pet hammock.
  • Most glove boxes can fit a full-sized Kleenex box. They’re useful for many things, including drying off your soaked feet when you thought it wouldn’t rain so you wore fall fashion boots, then it ended up raining cats and dogs and your feet get soaked to the core.
  • Don’t park your car under an acorn or walnut tree in the fall. Or ever. Just don’t do it. ‘Cuz roof dents.
  • When you renew your licence plate stickers, it’s more convenient to get the two-year package than the one-year package.
  • Keeping a pair of gloves in the glove box doesn’t make sense in the winter. Because when you put your gloves on, they’re just as cold as the steering wheel. Why not keep them inside where it’s warm?
  • For God’s sake, if your car is dirty get it washed!
  • If you don’t slam on the gas pulling away from every traffic light, yield sign, stop sign, and corner, you will actually save gas!
  • Remote starters are your friend in the winter.
  • If you don’t have a remote starter, let your engine run for a little while before pulling out of the driveway.
  • If there is ice or frost on your windows, scrape them off! Especially your windshield and back window.
  • Ice will ruin your wiper blades. In the winter I like to put mine up during the day (while my car is parked at work) and at night.
  • Don’t be one of those people who is too lazy to brush all the snow off their car and blows it all over the cars behind them as they spin their tires on the road that’s only just been salted after a heavy snowfall. It’s just inconsiderate. Make time to do it.
  • Adjust your right side mirror so that its tilted down just slightly so you can see the ground when you’re backing up around a corner. Trust me. That side of your car is an illusive mystery. It’s further than it may appear.
  • Turn on your headlights in heavy rain, snow, or fog. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. The other drivers need to know where you are on the road.
  • Keeping your reusable grocery bags in the trunk is way more convenient than keeping them by the front door.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please share and follow my blog. 

– Ariel

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