Car Maintenance Tips for First-Time Drivers

When you start driving for the first time, it’s very exciting as it’s a rite of passage for any teenager or adult. Learning to drive a vehicle responsibly is a must to avoid accidents, remain safe, and avoid unnecessary expenses. Over time, certain safety practices will become second nature to you. You must learn how to properly care for your vehicle, and maneuver it safely on the road and parking without incident. Here are some auto maintenance tips for first-time drivers.

Practice Safe Driving

Some of the most important tips for first-time drivers involve using both hands on the steering wheel whenever you’re driving. As you become comfortable driving, you may think it’s easy to navigate with one hand. However, you may be surprised at how quickly you have to stop unexpectedly. Being able to use both hands quickly will help your reaction time and avoid making a devastating mistake on the road. Plus, if one hand is doing something else, that means you’re distracted. Any distractions can result in harm to your vehicle, another driver, or a pedestrian.

It’s natural to get hungry when driving, especially if you have a long-distance commute. One of the best things you should do is have a healthy breakfast or snack in the morning before you set off to work. Then you’re less likely to be tempted to eat later in rush hour traffic. If you must eat something, it’s much better to pull over to the side of the road to eat comfortably than to try to eat while driving. If you must snack, have something quickly accessible to take a bite out of when you come to a complete stop at a red light or when traffic is very slow.

Good music can make your commute go by much faster. Just don’t make the mistake of turning it up so loud you can’t hear what’s going on outside. After all, you may have to listen out for sirens from emergency vehicles or accidents happening on the road. You should listen out for weird issues with your car, such as a tire popping. You may get so lost in some of your favorite music, that you may lose focus on what’s on the road until something shows up in front of you. Save your phone usage for when your car is not in motion. Phone calls and social media posts can wait until you’re safely off the road or parked. Many accidents have happened because someone was illegally using their cell phone while driving or checking their social media updates. If you must take calls when driving, make sure you have a hand-free set in your car. You should also set a “do not disturb I’m driving’ message on your cell.

Keep Things Clean

A dirty car doesn’t exactly help your reputation. Not only would someone be hesitant to take a ride with you, but dirt can wear down the lifespan of your vehicle. Just like your home, your vehicle should be as clean and sanitary as possible. After all, dirt, dust, and contaminants can build up in your space if you’re not properly cleaning up. Many people often eat in their cars, especially when you have a long commute. If you have a lot of leftover trash in your car you may have a buildup of crumbs which may eventually start to attract bugs. If you live in an area with inclement weather like winter, you may be tracking snow, salt, sand, and dirt on your car floors. Plus, if you don’t clean your interior, dirt, dust, and sweat build up and stain your upholstery. Before you know it, your new car may begin to smell. That’s why one of the most important things for first time drivers to remember is cleanliness in your vehicle matters.

When it comes to keeping a clean car, there are professionals you can go to. Going to your local car wash is an easy way to keep your exterior clean. You can go to an auto detail shop to completely clean out your car interior. Auto detailing interior work involves vacuuming your car floors. They’ll also vacuum the upholstery to remove any crumbs or lingering debris. They can shampoo stains out of your interior and have it smell refreshed and clean. Detailers will also sanitize all of your interior surfaces, such as your dashboard, and wash and shine your car windows. In addition to washing the exterior, they can further protect it with upgrades such as waxing or chrome. Chrome is a good option for first time drivers as it protects your underlying paint job from damage and scratches. As a result, it’ll extend the overall lifespan of your car. If you want to trade it in or sell it years from now, you’ll still have a quality product that’ll retain as much value as possible.

Use the Right Fuel and Lubrication

Regardless of how beautiful your car looks inside and out, it needs fuel and oil to run efficiently. Know what auto oil companies supply the right oil for your car, even if professionals handling the oil change. Oil is essential for lubricating your engine. Your car oil needs to be changed after a certain amount of mileage depending on your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. While you can have your oil changed at your local auto shop, it’s also something you can do on your own if you keep oil available. An important oil-changing tip for first time car drivers is never to top off old oil with new one. Always dump out that old oil in the cylinder and fully replenish it with new fresh oil. Another thing to remember is to never mix different types of oils. If you’re switching to a new brand of car oil, only fill your cylinder with that type and don’t mix it with a previous existing one.

The type of fuel you use in your car matters. Some cars need a particular type of fuel, such as petroleum or unleaded gas. If you want to be eco-friendly, you may want to get an electrical vehicle where you won’t need to stop at the gas station unless they also have an EV charger. If you make a conversion to an electrical vehicle, make sure you have a charger for your garage.

Find a Repair Shop Close By

Becoming familiar with the location of a local auto repair shop should be one of the first things for first time drivers to do. After all, car collisions happen daily in the United States. Some may result in a car scratch whereas others may result in the car being completely totaled. At least if you ever have a collision, you’ll know a good place to take your car ahead of time. However, you don’t have to wait until something goes wrong to go to a repair shop. You may want to take your car in for various checkups. You may suspect something is wrong especially if your car is no longer running as efficiently as it normally does. There may be warning lights blinking on your vehicle. However, you may need regular maintenance, such as tire rotation, oil change, auto transmission repair, and so on.

Understand Tire Wear

You won’t be able to move without functional tires. Therefore, you should understand the value of rotating them regularly. If you don’t rotate your tires, certain ones will have more wear on them than others, such as the ones in the front. When one side of your tires gets worn down it affects the way you steer your car. It will eventually become lopsided or vibrate when in motion. Worn tires can also affect traction. Lack of traction makes it hard for you to stop instantly and your car may skid, especially on a slippery road. A good way to check the amount of tread your tires have is by using a penny. Insert a penny into your tread and if the entire head disappears, you still have enough tread. However, if most of the head is still visible, your tires are too worn down and it’s time to switch them out. You can also use a gauge trend indicator but some people simply take their tires into their local auto shop to rotate and check them.

Have Backups for Keys

It can be annoying fumbling for your car keys or thinking you’ve misplaced them. Luckily, advances in auto technology now allow many drivers to open their cars without the use of a manual key. Some car models allow you to open them by way of a mobile app or keychain. A good idea for first time drivers is to check into remote car starter installation for their vehicle. This type of mechanism can also be a safety feature, as you can quickly open up your car and jump in immediately without fumbling for your cars at night.

Maintain Insurance

According to Forbes, only one in seven American drivers don’t have an auto insurance plan. Luckily, most Americans carry some form of car insurance. Doing so is a requirement in most of the states. Plus, having valid vehicle insurance is financial protection in case you get into a collision, whether it’s your fault or not. If you cause an accident and must pay damages to another driver or property owner, your vehicle insurance can cover it from liability or comprehensive care. Your vehicle insurance can also pay to get your car repaired after a collision so you don’t have to pay out of pocket. In other words, if you have a collision without insurance, it could be financially devastating. Therefore auto insurance is a must for all first time drivers to protect themselves.

Keep Windows Clear

The windows on your car should be clear and solid at all times. In other words, you shouldn’t be driving with a cracked windshield or clogged rearview mirrors that don’t provide full vision. Not having a clear line of vision in the front or back of your car can impede your safety. The reason why you have side and rearview mirrors is that you need a parameter of vision around you when it comes to parking or seeing other vulnerabilities on the road, such as a swerving driver. If you have a cracked windshield, it could easily shatter even over a slight impact. Driving with a cracked windshield may result in a fine if you’re pulled over by the police. Therefore, make sure you always have prompt window repairs.

Get Service for Your Specific Brand

Pay attention to the type of vehicle or brand you have. Doing so may affect whether or not you make the right decision about where to take your car for service. For example, brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have their own designated dealers to handle the specifications of these cars. When you drive a truck, you don’t want to take it to just any dealer, take it to someone who specializes in truck repair services.

Get a Cheap Backup Ride

According to CarGurus, the average cost for a used car is slightly over $26,000. Sometimes the best thing for first time drivers to do is to start with a less expensive vehicle. Consider looking into used car sales. You may want to check out recreational vehicle sale in case you find an ATV, motorcycle, or other alternative transportation for backup.

Have Legal Advice on Hand

Solid advice for first time drivers is to proactively locate auto legal services in your area. If you ever get into a collision, you’ll need the services of a local auto accident lawyer. Get the contact information for a few of them to call if you need fast representation. An auto accident lawyer can help you get compensated faster.

As you can see, there are many considerations a first-time driver should consider. Knowing the right type of service, safe driving tips, and how to care for your vehicles can enable you to make the transition to driving easier. Have fun driving for the first time in 2024 and stay safe.

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