10 New Year’s Resolutions to Be a Better Car Owner

A man hugs his car

Your car asked us to write this story. It feels neglected, taken for granted and under-appreciated. Your car carries you around faithfully day to day, but it doesn’t receive much attention from you in return. In fact, you even make it stay outside in the driveway, while you fill the garage with all kinds of unimportant stuff. Not good.

New Year’s Resolutions to Make Your Car Happy

Since the relationship between your car and yourself is already strained, it won’t hurt to show it a little respect. Here are 10 resolutions you can make to your car, just to show you care, and to give it a little reassurance about its place in your life.

Make it Look Good, and It Will Feel Good About Itself

First, splurge on a high-quality polish and wax kit. Acid rain, pollution and vehicle exhaust leaves contaminants on your car’s expensive finish, which slowly dulls it over time. Then your car becomes self-conscious around other, more shiny cars. Those contaminants get enbedded in the finish and don’t wash away.

Invest in a high-quality car wash kit. You will need the special soap made for cars, then a polish to remove all those contaminants. Maybe once a year you should apply the polish. Some manufacturers sell ‘cleaner wax,’ which contains a mild abrasive to scrub away all the bad stuff embedded in your car’s paint. Either way, once a year do something to get the paint clean besides just washing your car.

Follow the polish with a coat of high-quality wax, the good stuff. And don’t use old underwear to buff out the wax. Just imagine how your car feels about that. Invest in some lint-free towels. After all, this is your car we’re talking about. While you are shopping for the towels, buy some spray wheel cleaner, the foaming kind that contains no abrasives. Many wheels have a clear coat of finish on them, just like your car’s paint has, but softer. A professional therapist would say to buy a soft brush for cleaning those expensive wheels and tires. There is real joy in owning all this stuff, and it’s practical too.

Here’s Some Money-Saving Tips

Second, fix all those little chips in your car’s paint before they start to rust. Touch up paint is cheap, color matched and easy to apply. If you can’t find an exact match, then use clear finger nail polish to seal the paint chips. It works, is almost invisible and dries very fast.

Third, fix that rock chip in your windshield before it spreads. If it’s too late for that, check to see if your comprehensive auto insurance has 100 percent glass replacement coverage. Many policies cover glass repair and replacement without a deductible, but many car owners don’t realize that. Your car says “you’re welcome.”

Tools, We Love Them

Fourth, buy an inexpensive air compressor. Then check the air in your spare tire. It’s probably low because you never check it, and the worse time to discover that is when you need the spare. Besides, think to the future. Once you own an air compressor, your spouse can start buying air powered tools for you as gifts. Wouldn’t you rather receive an impact wrench or a nice air chisel for your next birthday? Of course, you would.

Fifth, buy a decent lug wrench. The factory gives you one made from the softest metal and that never fits snugly on the lug nuts, which are always frozen in place when they have to be removed to install the spare tire. Go to your favorite hardware store and buy a ½” drive, extra-long breaker bar and a deep socket that will fit your lugs perfectly. You will probably want a chrome, thin-wall deep socket that fits into the recesses of your nice wheels, and not a thick-wall, black-colored impact socket. While you are there buy the same set up for your spouse’s car. Consider that a surprise gift. Romantic, isn’t it?

Quit Neglecting the Spare Tire

Sixth, oil the jack and make sure it is not frozen in place, but operates fully. Better yet, take the jack out and learn where it is supposed to attach to the car. Yes, there are special places under your car that hold the jack in place so it doesn’t slip under a load.

Read Up on This Stuff

Seventh, for that matter read your owners’ manual. Good things await you, like where to position the jack, and how to use all the fancy features on your stereo or how to program the automatic seat adjustment memories.

Eight, stock some maintenance supplies in your garage. WD40, a small bottle of brake fluid, and a gallon of windshield washer fluid are nice to have. Plain water will freeze in the windshield washer bottle and break it and destroy the washer pump. Show your car a little respect and spend two dollars on the right stuff. How about keeping a few quarts of engine oil and one of each filter; air, oil and PCV, if your car has one. Don’t forget the cabin air filter, often overlooked and packed full of dead bugs and rotting leaves. Yes, we breath all that stuff. Think how the car feels too.

More New Tools

Nine, reward yourself throughout the year with some new tools. I suggest starting with a nice set of high-quality screwdrivers. Keep your old ones and continue to use them as paint stirrers, can openers, pry bars and chisels. Save the shiny new ones for removing screws, especially the pesky Phillip head screws everybody just loves to hate. Somehow cars know when we spend good money on good tools, and they cooperate with us so much better. I don’t know why that is.

Finally, assemble a small first aid kit to keep in the trunk. Hopefully you will never need the large bandages and yards of white gauze people always buy, as if they were going to make a mummy on the road in the middle of nowhere. But some band aids, tweezers and a bottle of eye drops will sure come in handy. Once you have those three things, occasions will present themselves to use them. You won’t know how you survived without them.

The More You Know, the Better

It doesn’t hurt to buy a decent repair manual for your car. Show it you care enough to learn how it works. Besides it’s fun to read and learn about cars. Hint, hint. Determine to read your new repair manual ½ hour each week, just like the boring self-improvement resolutions your friends and coworkers are making right now.

Finally, if you pass this article on to two of your friends good luck will come back to you. Sure, people will think a little better of you because you made them smile or chuckle, but the really big things will happen too. You might go the entire 12 months of the new year without somebody dinging your car in a parking lot.