Cars are expensive investments. From the initial down payments to the monthly payments to gas and insurance, we spend a lot of money to keep them on the road. So it’s important that we feel confident as drivers and as car owners. You don’t need to know where every bolt is on your car, but it’s important to know the basics so that you can feel confident on the road and confident as a car owner.
Here are the basics that every car owner should know and how you can gain confidence in your car.
What information should I know about my car?
The make, model, and year.
Every owner should, at the very least, know the make and model of their car, as well as the year it was manufactured. Everything about your car’s maintenance will depend on this information. While cars all generally work in the same way, the specifics of the inner workings will vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer, from model to model, and even from year to year.
While you don’t need to know the specific odometer reading at any given moment, you should have a general sense of how many miles your car has on it. Maintenance schedules are heavily dependent on the mileage of our car, so knowing this information will keep you on a maintenance schedule and keep your car running well.
The maintenance schedule.
You don’t need to have your car’s maintenance schedule memorized, but you should keep a few things in mind. Check your owner’s manual to determine how often you should change your oil, rotate your tires, and replace vital parts such as timing belts.
The recommended tire pressure.
The only thing that separates your car from the asphalt below are your tires. It is important for your safety and the safety of others that your tires are in good shape. This means making sure there is good tread and that the tire pressure is properly maintained. The recommended tire pressure will be listed in your owner’s manual as well as in the door jam. You should make a habit of checking each tire’s PSI once a month to ensure they are properly inflated.
The VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, is like your car’s social security number. It is a unique ID for your car that is 17 digits long. You don’t need to memorize it but you should know where it is located because you will certainly need this information at one time or another. You can find this number on the driver’s side windshield where it meets the dashboard.
What information should I know about my car loan?
In addition to knowing basic information about your car, you should also know basic information about your car loan. You should know:
- The lender
- Your monthly payment amount
- Your payment due date
- The interest rate
- The repayment period (i.e. when the car loan will be paid off)
You should also know what the policy is for late payments and what fees you may owe if you are late. It is important to stay on top of your car loan payments to avoid fees and even repossession down the road.
How can I be more confident behind the wheel?
Becoming a confident driver takes time. Even if you have driven other cars before, each new car requires you to get familiar all over again. Car’s vary greatly in size, visibility, and how high off the ground you are, and these differences can change your driving style and your confidence.
Like anything, practice is key. When you get behind your new car it will take time to adjust and acclimate yourself, so the more time you spend behind the wheel the better off you will be. This doesn't mean you should take your car out for a three day road trip the first weekend you have it, but going out for frequent trips will help you gain some confidence.
#2. Learn where everything in your car is.
The location of controls will also vary from car to car. You should know what every button on your dashboard does, from where the hazards are to where your fog lights are located. You do not want to be searching for these in the moment when you suddenly realize you need to pull over or realize your visibility isn’t great.
#3. Ditch the distractions.
While some people find some music or conversation to be relaxing while driving, these things can be distracting when you are unfamiliar with a new car. Reducing the amount of distractions will help you to focus on the road and help you get more comfortable driving. This means leaving the passengers at home while you gain some confidence.
#4. Check your mirrors.
Before you even start your car you should check your mirrors. You should be able to see well out of every mirror so that you can drive your car safely. If you have a backup camera, which most new cars do, make sure you can see out of that well. Sometimes the cameras get dirt or water on them which can hurt the visibility.
#5. Check your seat position.
Every driver has a different preference on their seat position while driving. Some people like to sit upright and closer to the steering wheel while others like to sit back a little more and drive with a more relaxed posture. It is up to you to decide what is more comfortable for you, and trying out some different positions may help you find what is best for you.
#6. Don’t worry about other drivers.
This doesn't mean “don’t pay attention to other cars on the road”. This means do not get worried if you feel that you are driving too slow or taking a bit too long to park. As long as you are obeying the speed limit and following the law you are allowed to drive at your own pace. If you get too distracted or worried about other drivers you may make a mistake or even get into an accident, and that will certainly not help your confidence behind the wheel.
That’s how you can feel confident as a car owner.
Basic knowledge about your car and car loan as well as some experience behind the wheel will help you become a more confident driver. Being a confident driver will in turn make you a safer driver and will also make driving more enjoyable for you.
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