Car Care – Frugal Novice
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Car Care

DIY Detailing Gives You the Feel of a New Car!

love having my car detailed; it gives me the feeling that I’m driving a brand-new vehicle, which is always fun! There’s just something nice about having a pristine-feeling car. No matter what your circumstance, detailing your vehicle is a way to pamper yourself – and your car. If you’re not willing, or able, to shell out the money for someone else to detail your car, don’t worry! Here are some steps to do it yourself and save money.

1.     Buff your paint. A good car wash goes a long way, but use an oscillating buffer with some polish to really make your car gleam. Follow up by waxing your car and you’ll get a great shine to your car’s exterior that will definitely make it feel new!

2.     Use an air compressor. There are lots of nooks and crannies you just can’t reach with a vacuum, so an air compressor can really make a difference in the depth of cleaning you’re able to achieve. Borrow one, rent one, or invest in one – regardless of how you acquire one, you’ll be glad you did. An air compressor loosens dirt from the carpet and seats, making it easier for you to clean.

3.      Remove all mats from your vehicle before vacuuming. Vacuum the interior well (after using the air compressor, of course) and take care of the mats while they’re outside of the car. While the mats are out, go ahead and wash them with a steam cleaner to get them looking great before you put them back in your vehicle.

4.     Use glass cleaner inside and out. You might not really think about cleaning the insides of your windows, but that’s where all the fingerprints are (or, if you’re like us, nose prints from your dogs that ride in the vehicle). Get your windows sparkling by using glass cleaner (a spray or wipes) on the interior and exterior of your windows.

5.     Wipe down all hard surfaces with a cleaner. You’ll remove any grime or dust settled on the car, and then you can finish off the job with something like Armor All to give a little added shine. Wipe your dashboard, of course, but also think about wiping off other hard surface areas you might not typically consider like around the doors where people put their hands, or on area where you clip your seatbelt in.

A Kid-Friendly Plan for Keeping Your Car Clean

I have three children, ages 9, 7, and 4. We are on the go quite a bit, and each of my children brings items into the car as we’re out and about. They like to bring toys and books, which is all good and well until we have the equivalent of a toy store in the back of our vehicle!

It doesn’t always happen, but it’s a goal of mine to keep our car presentable; my standard is having it clean enough that we wouldn’t be embarrassed to offer someone a ride. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to manage the mess, even with kids!

1.     Schedule car washes. Taking the car to be washed just wasn’t on my radar, but now it’s something we do at least twice a month. When we get it washed we always follow it up with cleaning out and vacuuming the interior, so this ensures that we have an opportunity for deeper cleaning every couple of weeks. If you’re adverse to spending money on a car wash, you can schedule a weekend day to do it yourself at home – or better yet, make the kids do it! It can be a fun task that they might actually enjoy.

2.     Make smart car food choices. I think most parents will agree it’s pretty unrealistic to suggest a no-eating rule in the car. I have instituted this rule on occasion, and it definitely makes life harder. When we’re running late in the morning, it’s easier to let the kids eat breakfast on the drive to school. I’ve learned that we have to pick the right types of food – granola bars work well; cereal with lots of small pieces does not – and that we need to package food in the right way to help keep crumbs at bay.  When the children do bring cereal, we put it in a larger baggie, filling it only about ¼ of the way. You don’t want leftovers, because those will inevitably be spilled. I prefer to give the kids drinks in cups with lids because juice boxes often get unintentionally squeezed and make a big mess.

3.     Always throw trash away when you get gas. You’re standing around waiting for the gas to pump anyway – why not be productive? This will help keep trash from piling up and seeming like a daunting task to tackle.

4.     Provide a basket for each child in the car.  Go to the dollar store and get each of your children a small basket. Every so often have the kids bring their basket in and purge the car of various toys and items that have made their way into the vehicle over the past week.

5.     Keep baby wipes on hand. These are great for cleaning spills, wiping down the hard surfaces in the car, and cleaning up the kids, too. Quick wipe-ups help prevent stains from setting in and can curtail a sticky mess before it spreads.

Be Prepared in 2017 – Make an Emergency Kit for Your Vehicle!

The start of a new year is a perfect time to get organized. When it comes to being on the road, it can be crucial that you have a proper emergency kit stashed away in the trunk of your car – you definitely want to be prepared! It’s really simple to put together a kit of materials you might need in various situations, and you’ll sure be glad you did! You can buy pre-assembled kits, but if you make your own you can save money and end up with a kit that’s custom for your needs. Here are five things to include in a vehicle emergency kit:

1Fire extinguisher. This might not be something you think of automatically to have in your car, but think about how many times you’ve seen vehicles on fire on the side of the road. It’s good to be prepared! Make sure you get one rated for Class B (those that involve flammable/combustible liquids, like gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene) or C (those involving electrical equipment like switches and batteries) fires.

2First-aid kit. You probably have one of these in your home (and if you don’t, add that to your shopping list, too!) and it’s just as important to have one in your car. This can be one of those things we knowwe need, but we never get around to purchasing. Neosporin, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze, adhesive tape, and aspirin are all great things to include. Your family might have specific medical needs that you want to consider, too. We have been really glad to have band-aids in the car on several occasions!

3Jumper cables. We have these, and just recently were able to help a friend whose battery had died. If our car dies, it’ll make it a lot easier for us to get help by already having jumper cables. They’re inexpensive and compact, so it makes sense to have these on hand.

4Blankets. While it’s still cold these can be especially important to have. In winter, if you get stranded you’ll be thankful for the warmth. In the summer, if you get caught in a hail storm a blanket might be your only line of defense between you and the hail. If you have to fix a flat tire and are surrounded by rough terrain, you could lay the blanket down underneath you while you work.

5Foam tire sealant.  This is an inexpensive, temporary solution when you get a flat tire, and I think everyone should own a can. It could mean the difference in you being stranded in the middle of nowhere or making it to the nearest town for help!

While you’re assembling your kit, try and think of any other items you might need – and feel good about getting prepared for 2017 travel!

Don’t Forget to Make New Year’s Resolutions for your Vehicle!

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is already here! If you’re like me, you’ve probably made resolutions to get healthier this year. Add your vehicle’s health to your resolution list while you’re at it! Maintaining your vehicle will make you – and your wallet – happier when you look back on the year.

1.     Schedule regular tune-ups for your vehicle. Make sure your filters aren’t too dirty, that your fluid levels are where they need to be, and that everything is running smoothly. Our auto place even offers free check-ups in between oil changes, because they recognize that it’s a great way to keep your car in tip-top shape.

2.     Keep up with oil changes for your vehicle when needed. If you think you’re saving money by stretching out the time between oil changes, you’re not doing yourself any favors. It can actually end up costing you more in the long run because it can end up causing damage to your vehicle. Skipping an oil change leads to a less-efficient car with more potential for problems. Keep all your fluids topped off – most oil change places will tell you if your other fluid levels are too low.

3.     Declutter your car every day. I have three kids, so clutter is king in our car. I have to make a conscious effort to clean up as we exit the car each day or the clutter piles up before I know it! It’s easy to think that you’ll throw that coffee cup away tomorrow, but I promise that if you get into the habit it’s just as easy to go ahead and throw it away today. It only takes a minute to work on it a little each day, and then you don’t end up with a monumental task. If you have children like I do, make them clean up their trash – and bring in toys – every day, too. You’ll all feel better traveling in a clean car, and then you won’t be embarrassed to give someone a ride.

4.     Listen and look for things that are out of the ordinary for your vehicle. You’re with your car day in and day out, so you are familiar with what sounds and behaviors are normal. If you notice a weird clanking, buzzing, or humming, it’s worth getting it looked at. Right now it might be a minor problem, but if you put off taking care of the issue now it can turn into something big – and expensive.

5.     Maintain your tires and have them rotated regularly. Tire blowouts are not fun, but they can happen easily if your tires are worn or if you have nail in the tire that you’re not aware of. Keep an eye out for the condition of your tires, and look for things that might be stuck in them. Check your air pressure, too. Most cars now have a warning if your air pressure gets too low, but a simple tire gauge is a great tool to have around. Rotate the tires so they wear evenly.

Make the resolution to take great care of your car for the coming year with these five simple steps!

2016: New Year’s Resolutions – For Your Car

2016 push button. Concept of new year, two thousand sixteen.

We’re a month in to 2016. Have you made any resolutions this year – and more importantly, have you followed through?

I hope you’ll take a minute and consider making a few more resolutions… but not for eating healthier or saving money (although do those too, for sure!)… for your car. You’ll be glad you did, and your car will be thankful, too.

Here’s one resolution to start you off:

Take your car for regular tune-ups. Many oil change places even offers free check-ups in between oil changes, because they recognize that it’s a great way to keep your car in tip-top shape.

For other car-related resolutions, visit my guest post over on the Dulles Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership blog.

Be Prepared When You Get on the Road

EmergencyKit

Will you be getting on the road in the coming weeks for a road trip? If so, I’m sure you’ve probably started thinking about what all to pack. Don’t forget Christmas gifts for the grandparents, blankets for napping on the road, or things to keep your kids occupied while you drive. And definitely remember to pack an emergency kit for your car.

It’s always a good idea to be prepared with some important basics. You can buy a pre-made kit, but if you assemble your own you know you’ll have exactly what you need when the situation arises. One thing you want to be sure and have is a fire extinguisher. Make sure you get one rated for Class B (those that involve flammable/combustible liquids, like gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene) or C (those involving electrical equipment like switches and batteries) fires. If your engine catches on fire, you’ll be glad to have this on hand.

For other tips on what to include in your car’s emergency kit, check out my guest post over on the Antioch Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram blog.

Buying a Used Car 101

Automobile industry

The other day I shared a post about how my husband and I love to buy used vehicles, and wrote a little about why we think it’s a great way to go.

Buying a used car can be intimidating, though. If you’ve never bought a car before, it might seem easier to just buy a new one – but if you shop at a reputable dealership and ask the right questions, buying a used car is not a big deal at all, and it just might help you get a great bargain in the process.

I wrote a post over on the Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota blog all about questions to ask when you’re purchasing a used vehicle. One question I always ask?

Can I see service records? Find out if the car received regular oil changes and tune-ups; if any parts that wear down over time have been replaced. You want to make sure the used car you’re purchasing has been taken care of so you don’t have unforeseen problems down the road.

Find out my top question that you should always ask by checking out my guest post!

 

Buying Used Vehicles: Yea or Nay?

portrait of african american car sales consultant with arms folded in showroom

If you’re considering buying a used vehicle and are asked me whether you should or not, you’d get a resounding yes. We’ve owned 8 vehicles between the two of us, and six of those have been used.

We love buying used cars. When you purchase from a good dealership, you know the vehicle will have been thoroughly inspected for any potential problems. And you know that you’ll get much more vehicle for your money, too. If you love the idea of having a navigation system but can’t swing the cost of it as an added feature in a new vehicle, buying a used car with the navigation system is a perfect solution.

I wrote a guest post over on the Fletcher Chrysler blog all about why you should buy used vehicles. Here’s one reason:

Less depreciation of value. A new car can depreciate about 30% in value within the first year you own it, but if you buy a one-year-old car you can take advantage of getting a lower price and minimizing your loss of value.

For more reasons to buy used vehicles, go check out my guest post!

How To: DIY Oil Change With Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Oil

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #DIYOilChange #CollectiveBias

There are lots of lessons that parents want to pass along to their kids – one of those life skills is changing your own oil. It’s something I’ve got to admit I didn’t know how to do until recently, when Brian taught our oldest son and I tagged along to watch – and to take pictures, so I could share a how-to with you, too!

First, you’ve got to make sure you’re equipped with all the necessary tools. As you might guess, oil is pretty key to have. We headed to AutoZone and picked up some Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Oil.  We decided to give this oil a try because we’d heard geat things about the complete protection it provides. No other leading motor oil provides better protection from friction, and we wanted to use  high-quality oil that has been specially designed to give our engine complete protection.

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Safelite Windshield Replacement is the Ultimate Convenience

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Note: We received a windshield replacement to facilitate our review. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own. 

Our city seems to do road work on a regular basis – which I appreciate, and all, except that there’s often loose gravel on the freeway, and our minivan has been a magnet for it. Our windshield is the prime target, and we had five cracks on various places across the glass, including one spot that had spread quite a bit (confession: that crack’s been there for over a year). We’d been putting off getting the cracks fixed because we felt like we just didn’t have time to go in and get it taken care of – little did we know we could’ve used a service like Safelite to get it fixed conveniently.

Since we’d let our windshield accumulate cracks, and since one of the cracks was spreading to the edge of the windshield, it was a better idea to go ahead and get our entire windshield replaced. Travis from Safelite came right out to our office building, new windshield in tow.

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Here’s where I feel like I ought to include a public service announcement: Did you know that your windshield might be heated without you ever realizing that? It can! We had no clue ours was heated because there’s not a button to turn the feature on; it’s automatic when we turn on the front defroster. So when Safelite asked me if we had a heated windshield, I said no. Whoops!

Luckily Travis was extremely gracious about having to order a different windshield and reschedule a time for the replacement.

When he came back, he showed us the process of repairing a crack before he replaced the windshield, and it really made me wish we hadn’t put off repair for so long. It takes about 10-20 minutes for Safelite to repair cracks, and they come right to your home or place of business so it couldn’t be easier.  You can see below our crack before and the windshield afterward, along with a few steps of the process along the way:

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