driving sunset

Buying a brand new (or even a new-to-you) car can be an exciting process, especially if you’re a first time car owner. That new car smell. The way your new wheels drive down the street. The ease of knowing your past transportation troubles are behind you! 

But before hitting the open road, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve prepared yourself and your car for what lies ahead. Here’s a checklist of the things to keep in mind before and after purchasing your new car. 

Inspect for initial issues

Unfortunately, you can’t always see issues with a car when buying it from a dealer. This is mostly an issue with used cars, but it could also be true of a newer vehicle. Be sure to communicate with your car dealer ahead of time, and ask about previous damage. Also, make sure to test drive the car to see how it handles the road. 

Checking specific areas of the car can save you headaches in the future. These include:

  • Vehicle fluids, including engine oil and coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, among others

  • Tire pressure
  • Brakes
  • Headlights and taillights
  • Windshield wipers

If you’re not sure what to look for when examining your car, take your new vehicle to a trusted mechanic and have them inspect your car for you. It would be a shame to take home a vehicle with flaws that could have been caught or prevented before you took ownership!

Be prepared for emergencies

You never know what you might encounter on the road or how long it can take you to get home. Just last week, hundreds of drivers were stranded in a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in eastern Virginia after a severe winter storm, some getting stuck for 16 hours or more. 

It’s important to have safety items with you and in your car that could save you from a dangerous situation. 

Suggested items to always keep on hand in your car:

  • First-aid kit
  • Water and non-perishable food items
  • Phone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Warm items and clothing including blankets, hats and gloves, raincoats
  • Ice scraper and antifreeze
  • Rags and hand sanitizer
  • Box of matches and candles
  • Duct tape and scissors
  • Spare change

Having these essentials when you need them will help you get going again quickly, or help you remain safe until you’re able to. Remember to replenish any items you use so you’re safely prepared again in the future!

Don’t overlook routine maintenance

Just like you take your kids to the doctors and your pets to the vet, your car needs some TLC regularly as well. 

Regular oil changes are necessary for a safe and well functioning car. Oil lubricates and cools the engine. Without new oil, your car’s performance could be significantly impacted and eventually it might not be able to run. According to AAA, your car’s oil should be changed on intervals of every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, but every car is different so you should check with your car manufacturer to see what they recommend.

Around the same time you go in for an oil change, it’s a good idea to also get your tires rotated. Your tires take the brunt of the road, and can get worn overtime. It’s important to have your tires rotated to a different position to keep them working for as long as possible and to avoid flats or blowouts. 

While sometimes it can be easy to ignore a new light on your dashboard or pretend you don’t hear that weird noise coming from under your hood, it’s really important that you don’t ignore warnings from your car. You should always get something checked out that could put the safety of you and your passengers at risk; it’s worth the expense in the long run. Make sure to find a good mechanic as well, someone that you can trust with your car and who will be fair in pricing. This way, you won’t be hesitant to get your car repaired, because you know any fixes are in your best interest. 

Read your owner’s manual

This one is often overlooked by new car owners, but an owner’s manual contains vital information about how to care for your car. If you’re an experienced driver, it may seem silly to review your car’s manual – however, you’ll be happy you took the time to ensure everything was in order before getting behind the wheel. 

Reading the manual ahead of driving will help you better familiarize yourself with the features and functions of your car, so that way when you do hit the road, you won’t be distracted trying to figure things out while you drive. 

You also want to be sure that you’re getting the most out of your car. Don’t let your new ride become an old ride only to figure out later in the manual that you had extra features to help make your driving experience smoother, safer, and more enjoyable. 

Shop around for auto insurance 

You probably wouldn’t purchase the first car you see, so you shouldn’t purchase the first auto insurance policy you see either. A lot plays into how much you’ll pay and rates will vary depending on which company you choose and what type of coverage you get.

Take the time to research auto insurance policy rates to determine which plan works best for you. Shop around and compare not only different rates from insurance companies, but also what they actually cover. If you have other vehicles or need home insurance too, rates can decrease based on bundling or having multiple coverages with the same company. Understanding the different coverage options available to you will make it easier for you to find savings and reduce insurance costs. Not sure where to find the right auto coverage? Click here to start comparing options from leading insurance companies today!

Now that we’ve covered what to do with your new car, sit back in the driver’s seat and enjoy the ride! Where will you head first?