As the new year begins, resolutions to lose weight, to be happier, and to live life to the fullest become pretty standard…although, perhaps, not always 100% achievable. However, one simple resolution that we should all be making is not only essential to protect you and your family, but also easily kept. That resolution? Prepping your car for a safe year of driving.
Car Tips to Start the Year Off Right
Although proper vehicle maintenance and checkups should be routinely carried out at least every three months, most people will protest they just don’t have time. Fair enough. You taught yourself how to budget time to floss your teeth by taking a step-by-step approach, so let’s begin our car upkeep regimen in the same spirit. Here, at the start of the new year, you can do a few things to make sure your car is in tip-top shape for the year ahead. It will also put your mind at ease; remember, just as your body can use a resolution to get fit, so can your car. Therefore, before your next drive to the gym, make the commitment to get your vehicle fit by performing the following maintenance and prep work:
- Make room by getting rid of junk. A year is a long time for unnecessary baggage to accumulate in your trunk and back seat. You may not realize it, but extra baggage means extra weight, and extra weight means that you’re needlessly burning extra fuel. Stop wasting gas and money by clearing out any unnecessary equipment, tools, that old umbrella, and other stuff cluttering your vehicle. In addition to saving fuel, you’ll also start the year off being able to see the inside of your car again.
- Clean. Your car can accumulate a lot of dirt, debris, and trash over a year. While you’re taking care of the big stuff, take the opportunity to deep clean your hood, engine, air grates, trunk lining, and the weatherstripping around the doors to prevent the build-up of grime and nasty allergens, and to keep your car running smoothly. Oh, and those fast-food wrappers and empty juice boxes in the back seat? They’re just places for mold to grow. Pitch ’em.
- Organize. Although you may never need them, insurance papers, registration, and car titles need to be in an easily reachable area (preferably your glovebox). Unfortunately, various other papers such as receipts, parking permits, etc., can also find their way into the glovebox, making it difficult to find the right papers at the right time. While cleaning the rest of the vehicle, organize your papers as well, making sure the essential documents are at the top and easily accessible.
- Check fluids and air filters. Brake fluid, clutch fluid, coolant, and oil are the four main fluids your car requires to keep parts lubricated and working smoothly. When these fluids become low or begin to thicken, they can cause serious difficulties for your vehicle. Dirty air filters can also wreak havoc on your air flow and odometer. While cleaning the hood and engine of debris, take the time to check the cleanliness of the air filters, all of the fluid levels (including windshield wiper fluid), and the quality of the fluid—if any of them are unusually grimy or gummy, you may need a complete change. Instead of doing it yourself, you can also schedule a beginning-of-the-year oil change and have all of your fluids and filters inspected and changed if necessary.
- Check tires. Proper tire inflation is extremely important on many levels. In addition to providing a smoother ride, proper inflation and grip can prevent serious accidents, while even just one under-inflated tire can ruin the strength of the other three as well as decrease the car’s overall fuel efficiency. Therefore, it’s crucial to measure tire pressure regularly as well as check the tire’s treads. The new year prep period is the perfect time to ensure your tires are in good shape.
- Address problems. If you’ve been putting off having any weird noises, steering problems, or dashboard warning lights checked out, now is the time to do it. Start the year off right by addressing any and all concerns you may have with the safety of your vehicle.
- Create an accident plan. Being prepared for an accident can save you plenty in the long run. Although you may hope that this year will be accident-free, the likelihood of suffering a collision is pretty high. Therefore, preparing for and knowing what to do in case the unthinkable occurs, is your best bet for survival. Browse our articles for more information on car accident do’s and don’ts, or contact us directly for answers to your questions; we’re dedicated to providing support and reassurance to all those who have been affected by a collision.