If ladies can have a special relationship with a new pair of shoes, just imagine our connection with a brand new vehicle.
We’ll give it a pet name, we’ll talk to it, and we know how to take care of it … or do we?
We do treat our vehicles right in one regard, by being safer drivers than men — just ask auto insurance underwriters.
But if you want to know how to keep your sweet ride in great shape, inside and out, we have easy checklists for you.
And to make sure this new treasure is properly protected, we’ll also tell you what you need to know about insurance, such as, “Can car insurance be transferred to a new car?”
Upkeep for Your New Vehicle
You most likely looked into and took advantage of tips on buying a new car. Don’t let your automotive savvy stop there!
That “new car smell” lasts organically for a little over a month, fading by 20 percent weekly. But don’t rely on chemical “new car smell” air fresheners or sprays.
Keeping your vehicle clean and fresh organically will stop bacteria from breeding, increase your fuel efficiency, make your passengers more comfortable, and even potentially avoid an accident caused by dirty glass or clutter blocking your sight.
And although it’s hard to envision now, you’ll sell or trade in your new prized possession one day, and keeping it nice can increase its resale value.
Interior Clean Routine
Get a vacuum, microfiber cloths, all-purpose auto cleaner, a parts brush, auto window cleaner, wet wipes, and a trash receptacle.
Thoroughly clean the inside of your vehicle monthly, and do the following in between:
- Clear out food and drink and empty the trash.
- Remove items like gym clothes or wet towels.
- Clean drips or spills as soon as possible.
- Knock your shoes clean before entering your vehicle.
- Use organizers if you travel with a lot of items.
- Keep loose change in a sealable container.
- Refrain from smoking.
Exterior Clean Routine
It’s recommended to wash your vehicle every two weeks. The optimal way is a hand wash — professionally.
But if you want to do it yourself, do it properly:
- Opt for microfiber cloths instead of terry cloths, and wash after every use.
- Only use automotive soap.
- Only use a good glass cleaner for your windows.
- Have a wheel brush handy.
- Use a wheel bucket, a clean-soapy bucket, and a water-only bucket.
- Move your vehicle out of direct sunlight to reduce cleaning-product and water evaporation.
- Rinse your vehicle first to remove loose dirt and soften embedded debris.
- Scrub the wheels.
- Give the undercarriage a good rinse.
- Apply soap by section, moving slowly and lightly, then rinse.
- Dry thoroughly with a microfiber cloth to prevent water spots.
- Polish or wax to give a nice shine and protect the paint.
Done right, your vehicle will look great, and you’ll get a workout.
If you’re not going to go the DIY route, then opt for a professional hand wash over an automatic wash. A quality soft-cloth wash cleans without the harsh chemicals used in a “touchless” wash. The gentle cleaning action of a soft-cloth wash loosens and removes contaminants that strong chemicals and high-pressure spray won’t.
If your only option is an automatic wash, that’s still better than no wash at all.
Keep Your Vehicle Running Smoothly
You don’t have to be a mechanic to know how to maintain your vehicle. But you also don’t have to run to the dealership or the repair shop for every instance to keep it in tip-top shape.
In fact, there are several car maintenance things you can do yourself to save time, save money, impress your friends, and get that rush of accomplishment.
Read Your Owner’s Manual
Yes, there are general rules regarding vehicle maintenance, but….your vehicle is special, right?
Settle into a comfy spot, put up your feet, and jot down the suggested maintenance and times that you find in your owner’s manual.
You won’t be able to take care of all of the maintenance yourself, but at least you’ll know when you should take care of it to keep your vehicle in optimal condition and avoid what could be thousands of dollars in repairs.
Check the Fluids
Given environmental regulations and the affordability of an oil change, you may be fine letting someone change your oil and dispose of it. But at least know how to check your oil and how to add more if needed.
Park on level ground, turn off your engine, open the hood, pull the dipstick out of the tube, wipe it clean, insert the dipstick back in, wait a second, withdraw it and check the level. Your oil level should be between the two marks on the dipstick showing the optimum level.
You also need the right kind of oil if you’re topping it off, so check your owner’s manual.
Also keep an eye on your windshield-wiper fluid. You don’t want to be stuck with that on empty when you’re on a busy road and the truck in front of you splashes mud on your windshield.
Pop the hood, locate the wiper fluid tank, remove the lid, and pour in the fluid until the fill line is reached. Choose a wiper fluid designed for your climate.
Check the Tires
To help avoid a flat tire or a blowout and drain gas mileage, buy a tire pressure gauge and insert it into the valve stem on each of your tires to make sure they aren’t underinflated or overinflated. New vehicles have the recommended pounds per square inch (PSI) listed on a sticker inside the driver’s door; if not, check the manual.
You can find air machines at tire shops, auto repair stations, and most gas stations.
There’s also an easy way to check that you have the proper tire tread depth — the penny test.
Insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove, with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, replace your tires, because your tread depth is less than 2/32 inches deep. The recommended depth is at least 4/32 inches, and replace-soon depth is 3/32 inches.
Driving on low-tread tires is dangerous since you have less traction and therefore less control on wet, icy, or slick roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported a study found over 26 percent of crashes involved vehicles with bad tires.
Check the Wipers
If you’re proud of yourself for filling the windshield-wiper fluid, just wait until you change your wiper blades. This is easy, too. You’ll know it’s time for a change when the blades streak or smear, they have uneven edges and missing pieces, and you can see cracks in them.
Buy the proper wiper blades size in-store or online (there are guides to help you). The replacement directions are right on the package.
Keep Your Vehicle Properly Insured
Transferring your auto insurance to your new vehicle is easy. Here’s what you need to consider.
Whatever vehicle you’re driving, it must be insured. So the first thing is not to forget to transfer your insurance. You don’t want any lapses, even just a day, since auto insurance is a state requirement in California. Getting caught driving without insurance results in fines and other headaches like dealing with damage or theft yourself.
Usually, you can simply contact your auto insurance company over the phone or online, in which you would just log on to your account, add your new vehicle to your policy, and drop your old vehicle at the same time.
Your insurer will take care of all the paperwork and state filings. If you’re a dot-your-i’s and cross-your-t’s type of person, check with your insurer a few days after the transaction to make sure your old vehicle has been taken off of your policy.
The type of auto insurance coverage you need may change.
If your old policy didn’t have collision and comprehensive coverage and you’re financing your new vehicle, you will need to add that coverage. It’s a lending requirement.
On average, annual rates are $150 for comprehensive coverage and $299 for collision coverage, which means you’re looking at an additional $499 annually, or a little more than $37 monthly. In some cases, you may want to buy gap insurance coverage.
In most cases, the change will be made instantly, with no money upfront, so that you’re properly covered. But you’ll receive a bill for the extra charges.
Now go have fun fussing over your new wheels — and pat yourself on the back for keeping yourself safe, saving money, getting more out of your vehicle, boosting your gas mileage, and even helping the environment.