A new year means a fresh start – most of us see it as a chance to shake things up in our lives. The promises we make to ourselves each January range from big to small, whether it’s wanting to get fit and lose a few kilos to pursuing a whole new career.
Whatever your goals are, we wish you success – but spare a thought for your four-wheeled friend, too. It’s easy to take your car for granted when you use it every day, whether it’s on the school run, getting to work or going to the gym. To make sure it keeps you safely on the road, though, it needs some attention.
With that in mind, while you’re considering your new year resolutions for 2021, we’d like to suggest the following:
Commit to car maintenance
When the letter from the garage arrives telling you your vehicle is due its annual service, what do you do with it? Chances are it gets shoved in a drawer and forgotten about until the next reminder. Newer cars might have a dashboard alert, but it’s easy to ignore that for a while too.
Yes, it’s often inconvenient – even if your garage offers a courtesy car service, you need to arrange drop off and collection. But the longer you leave it, the more chance there is of something going wrong – and you could end up with a sizeable bill to put it right.
This year, when your service or check-up is due, resolve to get straight on the phone and make an appointment.
Learn some basic skills
Knowing how to check oil levels and tire pressures is essential for every motorist, but a surprising number of drivers will admit they’re unsure how to do it. As well as getting to grips with the basics this year, why not learn how to do some other simple car maintenance tasks too? It will save you time and money – who wants to mess around making appointments with a mechanic or paying labor charges if they don’t need to?
Start with something easy, like changing your windscreen wipers. There’s a wealth of information online to help, from YouTube tutorial videos to model-specific maintenance manuals. Other tasks to consider include changing the oil or air filter, topping up the coolant, looking after your vehicle’s battery and checking the brake pads.
Keep it clean
How often do you wash your car? Or give it a good clean out on the inside? While some of us do give our vehicles a regular once-over, more of us are guilty of leaving them until we really can’t stand how dirty they’ve got!
The thing is, taking care of it more frequently makes the job easier. At the very least, try and declutter your car’s interior every week – and, if you prefer not to spend an hour at the weekend up to your elbows in warm, soapy water, take it to the local carwash instead.
Focus more on driving
Every single day, road accidents happen because motorists aren’t paying full attention to what they’re doing. Luckily, few of us would consider doing something as extreme as texting while driving or using the rear-view mirror to touch up our hair or make-up; we’re aware this would be highly dangerous both to ourselves and other road-users.
But even the little things can distract you. Maybe you’re listening to the radio and reach out to change the station or keep glancing at your GPS to check your route. Even seemingly minor actions like these are enough to take your attention away from the road, with potentially catastrophic results.
This year, vow to be a more mindful driver. Focus on the road and your surroundings – and nothing else.
Be courteous to other road-users
Tempers can fray while we’re driving. Being stuck in traffic is frustrating, or perhaps another motorist has pulled out in front of you, causing you to jump on the brakes. There seems to be an increasing number of stories in the media about road rage attacks, and with so many vehicles on the roads it’s easy to lose your cool.
Try to be more patient. Everyone has somewhere they’re trying to get to, and not all of them will drive impeccably. We can’t change that – but we can choose how we react. Some drivers will be erratic, others will go too fast. We’ll get stuck behind heavy goods vehicles who go too slow and novice drivers who don’t seem to have a clue what they’re doing.
Breathe and accept it. Leave earlier than you need to so you can allow time for delays. Download a good audio book or tune in to your favorite music and stay calm.
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