Are we the only ones who feel that our lives need a major overhaul sometimes? All too often, we’ve sensed the need to change our attitudes, our diet, our priorities, our hobbies… the list could go on and on.
Reorganizing your priorities can be an incredible blessing, and we recommend you do some soul-searching and try it. However, we’re here to offer a far quicker and easier change that can help overhaul and organize a tiny part of your life to make room for the big and more important organization projects: cleaning your car.
Yes, your car’s organization and cleanliness may not be on the list of life-changing projects, but it can go a long way toward peace of mind and efficiency so that you can make space on your list for the big stuff. And, since you spend so much time in the car, often with family and friends, it is a start toward better living.
What you’ll need to organize your car:
- A trash bag – This alone could revolutionize the way you travel. Got empty water bottles? Old Cheerios or Cheezits? Used Kleenexes? Old gas station receipts? We know you do—that and more. Designating a place for your trash keeps it out from underfoot and out of sight. Then, it’s easier to clean out regularly. The best way to keep your car clean is to empty or throw out and replace your old trash bag every day, but if that’s ambitious or you’re just not that trashy, try setting a weekly date to take out your trash. Remember: taking out the literal trash helps set up your mind to take out the figurative trash cluttering your life!
- Folder for your glove box – You’ve got critical papers in your car: your registration and insurance information, for starters. A folder, envelope, bag, or binder for these papers to tuck in your glove box is an invaluable way to organize.
- A needs box – There are some things you just need in the car: Kleenexes, an emergency kit, an umbrella, your favorite lipstick and your toddler’s favorite car toy. Keeping these items in the console or a designated box will ensure easy access and a floor free of clutter.
- Here are some things we suggest you might need in the car:
- Pen and a notepad
- Hand sanitizer
- Charging cables
- Extra bags
- Ice scraper
- Glass breaker (for emergencies)
- Tire pressure gauge
- Full gas canister
- Here are some things we suggest you might need in the car:
- Toy bags – If you’ve got kids, you’ve got a million car toys, from stuffed animals to action figures to crayons. A Ziploc bag, plastic bag, diaper bag, or even an old purse slung over your seatback can be the perfect storage place for toys for your tots, keeping the body of your car from becoming a giant toy box.
- Receipt receptacle – Whether your car is used primarily for office business or you’re a mom running all the errands, you will likely generate a lot of receipts that can roam freely if not reigned in. We recommend a specific envelope (folders don’t work as well) for all of those receipts. Like the trash, a nightly (or at least weekly) run-through of those receipts will help you discover which are trash worthy and which may be tax deductible.
- Trunk organizer – Another storage area in which lots of random clutter is “stored” is the trunk. Having a box, basket, or plastic organizing bin will help keep this area clean.
- Travel case for errands – You have things to return, mail to post, items to deliver, or donations to make. In short, you have a lot of things you need to drop off in the course of running errands. Why not have a designated bag or box for all those books you need to return to the library and those cans of food you want to donate to the local food pantry?
- Emergency medical kit – This is not an option. You really should have a kit that includes gauze, triple antibiotic ointment, medications, and Band-Aids at the least. It wouldn’t hurt to keep epinephrine shots or charcoal caps in it either, or other items as your medical needs determine.
- Published in Vehicle
Do something long enough, and it becomes a habit. Some are innocuous enough but others, not so much. We all have patterns that we fall into that on the surface seem harmless enough. The habitual coffee drinker won’t even cop to having a habit, but it’s better not to cross him until he’s had his first cup. It may be that you have picked up some harmful driving habits that may hurt you in the long run and you won’t even recognize that the habit was the cause of your troubles.
Being born of repetitive processes, habits come naturally to drivers. After all, there are few things more repetitive than getting behind the wheel day after day. Unfortunately, some repetitive behaviors can slowly and surely damage or car. Check this list to see if breaking a habit could keep your car from breaking your bank account with a preventable breakdown.
Do You Have Harmful Driving Habits Hurting Your Car?
Check out the list of potentially harmful habits below. Is there one you could break now to save yourself money in the future?
Running on Empty
It’s almost a game for some to try to get every last mile out of a tank of gas. As a broke college student, I considered it a win the day I literally coasted to a stop at the gas pump. Although it was great to regale my friends with the tale of my good fortune and feat of daring do, it turns out I was probably harming my engine.
Running your car on fumes requires the fuel pump to drain every last drop of gas from the tank. If there are any sediments at the bottom of the tank (and there probably are), they will get sucked into your engine. Over time, the little pieces of this and that can do big damage. It’s best never to run under about a quarter tank.
What Warning Light?
Warning lights are not decorations on your dashboard. It used to be that cars communicated with their drivers by way of odd sounds or the smell of smoke. Today’s sophisticated computerized engines can alert you to a problem before it’s a problem. If a new symbol appears on your dash, dealing with the issue before it has the chance to get out of hand.
Ignoring the Odometer
Auto manufacturers know how long their components are designed to last. Drivers who ignore the odometer and skip routine maintenance put themselves at risk. Failure to replace a relatively inexpensive part at the scheduled time can come back to haunt you at a later date.
Habits like the ones above can hurt a car passively but hold on to the next ones and it’s like hurting your car on purpose.
Watch Your Hands
If your car has an automatic transmission, don’t rest your hand on the gearshift. Constant pressure from the weight of your hand can damage the control rod at the base of the gearshift and wear away at the gears themselves.
One Foot at a Time
For cars with manual transmission, it is important that a driver not rest their foot on the clutch. Constant pressure here can cause unnecessary wear to components and lead to expensive repair.
If your car only has two pedals, use them one at a time as well. Worn brakes endanger not just your financial safety but your physical safety as well.
Ignoring that Other Brake
Skipping the parking brake shifts the responsibility of keeping your car in place to the transmission. Undue stress causes premature wear and transmissions ain’t cheap.
If you have any of these driving habits, we didn’t make this list to beat you up. We’re not looking for a confession, we’re just sure you like to keep your money in your pocket as much as we do.
- Published in Driving
With projected high temperatures near 90° this week, it is odd to sit here on an early October afternoon in Texas writing this blog post. However, I have survived enough Octobers to know that, climate change or not; it will be winter somewhere in America sooner rather than later. I also understand that wintertime driving poses challenges and that’s why you need the best tires for wintertime driving.
Whether the Weather Be Cold…
I will admit that my thoughts toward changing temperatures never extend much beyond my wardrobe. Remember that not just personal comfort is affected by temperature variation. When it comes to tires, what is appropriate in one season is not necessarily applicable to all seasons. Snow tires provide improved traction in winter but will wear faster as the mercury rises. On the other hand, I tire designed to group well in hot, dry weather will land you in the ditch at the first sign of frozen precipitation.
If you live in a state that experiences a substantial amount of snow or ice, you may want to consider swapping to snow tires for the winter months. Snow tires feature a tread compound not found in all season tires. This compound allows the tires to remain flexible in colder weather, ensuring better traction. In extreme conditions, traction can be further enhanced with the addition of studs.
Are You a Stud Kind of Guy?
The proper response to the quandary “to stud or not to stud” comes down where and how you drive. Several studies have concluded that studded tires provide the best advantage on clear ice at temperatures near freezing. Conversely, stud-less tires deliver better handling and braking in subfreezing temperatures regardless of precipitation.
Beyond weather conditions, other factors must be considered before swapping to studded tires. Studded tires are noisier to operate than standard tires. Further, they offer less protection, wear out faster and can cause road damage if the roadway is merely wet and not frozen. Drivers should also consider the legality of their choice. Many states restrict the use of studded tires, both rubber and metal, and those without restriction on type have limits on when they can be employed.
If you live in an area with harsh winters, dedicated winter tires may be a necessary option. Another step worth considering would be the purchase of dedicated wheels for those tires. This one-time investment will eliminate the expense of mounting and balancing at the change of every season.
In Milder Winter Zones
If you reside in an area that only experiences the occasional deep freeze and winter storm, all-season tires might be an option. An all-season tire brings balance between temperature extremes. A true all-season tire will carry a mountain or snowflake symbol certifying that they meet the winter performance standards set by US and Canadian rubber manufacturers. While many tire makers offer what they call “all season” tires, without a symbol of certification, performance may be questionable.
Choosing the right tire is important as it comes down to a choice about your personal safety. Doing a little homework before things get nasty can save you time, effort, inconvenience and maybe even your life.
- Published in Vehicle
As the summertime season is ticking away and with school and work routines about to get back to “normal,” you may be thinking about a quick getaway to wring out one last bit of summer fun. Road trips can be a great way to make memories. Good road trip planning will help you make only the kind you’ll want to remember.
Road Trip Planning – First Things First
Before you spend too much time figuring out where you want to go and what you want to see and do once you get there, make sure ol’ Betsy is up for the task. Check the fluids and the pressure and condition of the tires (don’t forget the spare!) and then get her cleaned out so she’s fresh for the road.
Be Prepared for Anything
Just like insurance, an emergency kit is something that you’d rather have and not use instead of something you need to use and not have. Several items should be included in a well-stocked emergency kit including things like jumper cables, engine fluids like oil and coolant as well as a small stash of basic first aid supplies.
Don’t Forget a Charger and Backup Battery
This one is not for your car, but for your phone. It’s hard to believe, but it wasn’t that long ago when we ventured into all kinds of remote places without a way to communicate for help in case you ran into trouble. Cell phones really have changed the way we live, but one with a dead battery is nothing more than a paperweight. If you do not have access to a charger or extra battery, consider leaving your fully charged phone turned off in case you do find yourself needing it somewhere out there on the road.
Know Where You’re Going
Like we said before, cell phones are great except when they’re not working, and the same goes for GPS. Print out or buy a map of your route in advance. These paper copies will work even if you don’t have battery or signal.
Consider Joining a Road Club
If you have pushed your drive too far between gas stations or have left the lights on by mistake, there’s nothing nicer than being able to call someone to give you a jump or to bring a gallon of gas. Dues for a road club membership are minimal, and the benefits it offers can keep a trip from going south in a hurry.
Get Your Paperwork in Order
While you were almost sure that the last speed limit sign did say 70, the friendly state trooper seems to disagree*. He’s going to want to see your license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration, so make sure to have it handy. Not having these readily available at home can make things sticky. Don’t complicate your vacation by not having them with you out on the road.
Hitting the open road can be great, but it can bring its share of surprises. Being properly prepared for the unexpected will help make sure that you enjoy a little fun and relaxation, probably the purpose of the trip from the beginning.
*If you did make it home with an unexpected souvenir, help remove that part of your road trip memory with an affordable and convenient online driving safety course from ApprovedCourse.com.
- Published in Travel