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There’s one thing that springs to mind when we think of the New Year – resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are promises we make to ourselves to start afresh with good habits, leaving our bad ones behind with the past 12 months. Among the most common resolutions are drinking less, giving up smoking, joining a gym or starting a savings fund. More often than not, we tend to come up a little short of our expectations. But it doesn’t stop us writing our list every December – there’s always next year, right?
Instead of jotting down the same hackneyed resolutions every year, try switching things up with some simple, realistic goals this time. A good place to start is with your car. We all tend to have our bad car habits, whether we struggle to keep it clean or suffer with road rage. Whatever your vice, let’s make a change in 2021. Need some ideas? Here is Motor Matcher’s ultimate list of New Year’s resolutions aimed at improving your auto etiquette.
Is your car littered with the remnants of your last drive-thru meal? Do you still have some luggage in your boot from a weekend getaway? If you’re somebody who has trouble keeping their vehicle in order, set yourself a goal next year to improve your car hygiene standards. Most people spend a considerable chunk of their week sitting in their car, and keeping it clean and clear can make a real difference to the driving experience. For example, driving to work in a filthy, cluttered car is conducive to stress and disarray. But a fresh, spotless car sets the tone for a relaxed and productive day. What would you choose?
One simple idea to reduce the mess in your car is to buy yourself a car bin – especially if you tend to snack on the road. This should help to keep rubbish off your seats and floor. When it comes to spillages and stains, the best way to avoid this is to avoid eating and drinking in your car as much as possible. Some substances can be really tricky to remove from the car’s upholstery, potentially attracting pests and causing nasty odours over time. Prevention is always worth more than the cure! Schedule in a valet once a month, either professionally or at home. If you’re doing it yourself, make sure to vacuum the interior and use a disinfectant on surfaces. Try not to hoard too much in your boot, either. Not only does this look untidy, but excess cargo can actually weigh your vehicle down and increase your fuel consumption.
When it comes to maintenance, many drivers will turn a blind eye until they have a real problem on their hands. The point of regular checks is to prevent the issue from developing in the first place. One of the most crucial yet most commonly overlooked maintenance checks is tyre pressure.
Just because your tyres look fine from the outside doesn’t mean they’re safe to drive on. Changes in tyre pressure are in fact very difficult to spot visually, so eyeballing it simply won’t cut it. Under-inflation increases rolling resistance, which can cause the tyre to blow out entirely. Low tyre pressure also negatively impacts handling, potentially leading to erratic or unpredictable movements on the road. On the flipside, over-inflation makes for an incredibly uncomfortable ride, less vehicle control, impaired braking performance and excessive wear and tear.
The safest and most accurate way to check your tyre pressure is using a gauge. You can either ask a mechanic to conduct the test, or get one yourself so you can do it at home. It’s actually very simple even for a DIY novice. If you decide to invest in a gauge so you can check your pressure whenever you want, begin by consulting your manual to see what the recommended PSI (pounds-per-square-inch) is. Once you have this information to test against, unscrew the cap on the air valve and push the gauge firmly onto it. Check the reading and if it’s low, your tyres need a pump. Conversely, if it’s too high, some air will need to be released. When the appropriate action has been taken, screw the cap back on and you’re ready for road.
Anybody can check their engine oil at home – no mechanic required. First, you must make sure the engine is cold and not running. With the engine off, open the car’s bonnet and locate the dipstick. Remove it and wipe off any excess oil using a clean rag or cloth. Re-insert the dipstick all the way. Pull it out again and look at how much residue is left behind this time. Your dipstick should have minimum/maximum indicators, and if your oil sits between these lines, your oil is at a healthy level. If not, add some more.
Most manufacturers recommend that you have your oil and filters changed every 5,000km to 10,000km or every six months - whichever comes first. Check your car’s manual for an accurate estimation. Oil lubricates the engine, keeping everything running smoothly. It’s one of the most essential contributors to your car’s overall health, and by neglecting it you are almost certainly reducing the car’s lifespan. Changing oil involves draining your car and replacing the oil (and sometimes the filters too) entirely, so it’s best to leave this one to the professionals.
We all lose our cool behind the wheel from time to time, and Aussies have a reputation for being some of the angriest drivers. In fact, according to a survey conducted by car insurer Budget Direct, two thirds of Australian road users have experienced a road rage incident over the last 12 months. This could mean anything from being shouted or cursed at, to having a rude gesture made towards them. What’s more alarming is that one in five drivers claim that someone has intentionally damaged or attempted to damage their vehicle. While it doesn’t excuse this shocking behaviour, 2020 has been a year marked by tremendous emotional stress. Road rage is undoubtedly exacerbated by mood, and it could be argued that the pressures of the pandemic played a role in these figures.
It’s not healthy to shout and cuss every time you feel slighted on the road – even if it’s just to yourself. The best cure for road rage is to take care of your mental wellbeing, and commit to a positive driving experience for yourself and others. Mind yourself by engaging in self-care rituals, whether this means taking a bubble bath or going for a walk. When you’re feeling tense, talk to somebody. A problem shared is a problem halved. And if you do happen to feel yourself losing your temper on the road, try to take deep breaths. Slowly train yourself not to indulge in a tirade and to keep your cool. A big step is becoming aware of the problem, and that way you can make small adjustments to your responses and see real improvements over time.
Let’s be honest – the second we leave the test centre with our licence in hand, we tend to get sloppy. We cut corners (both literally and figuratively) when possible to save ourselves time and exertion on the road. But sometimes, these manoeuvres or lack thereof can be more dangerous than we think. Consider what your bad driving habits are. Do you stop and start too suddenly? Do you zoom over speed bumps? Do you always drive ever so slightly above the speed limit? Do you drive a little too close to the car in front of you? Not only can these seemingly harmless behaviours damage your car and potentially result in hefty fines, but you could be putting pedestrians and fellow road users at risk. Start small and eliminate one bad habit at a time. By doing so, you’re making the road a much safer place.
Are you guilty of any of the above? Not to worry. We all have the means to alter our habits, and 2021 is a great year to start. It all begins with acknowledging the issue and taking small steps towards long term change. Don’t set yourself up for failure with unrealistic goals. Choose one or two resolutions instead, and commit to them with everything you’ve got. If you stick to one or two every year, these will add up nicely over time. Here’s to your success!
Are you in need of a New Year upgrade? Motor Matcher’s got you covered. At Motor Matcher, everything we do is modelled around providing customers with the right tools and empowering them with rich information, helping them make sound decisions when buying and selling cars. We offer a faster, simpler way to compare new and used cars online, creating an ideal and safe marketplace for all car buyers and sellers.
Visit our website today at www.motormatcher.com.au.