REPAIRING MY CAR > 15 Essential Car Care Items an Obsessive-Compulsive Sould Always Have on Hand

15 Essential Car Care Items an Obsessive-Compulsive Sould Always Have on Hand

2920977In this post I’ll cover some great products for taking care of your car. The following are some essential things to have on hand both for vehicle maintenance and as safety equipment for emergencies. As a crazy car guy, I just have to have this stuff!

1. Tire pressure gauge: Properly inflated tires can help with your gas mileage and improve the life of your tires. I like to check my tire pressure every month.

2. Car wash soap: There are dozens of brands of car wash soap. A couple of my favorites are Meguiar’s and Rain Dance. The important thing is to use real car wash soap. Using dishwashing soap can leave a dull film on your car as well as remove car wax. A good rule of thumb is if it removes spaghetti sauce off a plate, it will take the wax off a car.

3. Car wash mitts: These fit on your hand, so they won’t fall on the ground and get full of dirt and rocks. Don’t scuff up your paint!

4. Wax: If you’ve visited the auto parts store lately, you know that there are dozens of choices when it comes to car wax. From my auto-detailing days I prefer a wax that is only available from automotive paint stores. It is called 3M Show Car Paste Wax. This wax leaves a remarkable shine that is very long-lasting. There is another class of paint-care products that are called sealants. These are acrylic-based liquid products that last even longer than traditional paste wax. My favorite is Nu Finish. It is available wherever car care products are sold. The brand isn’t as important as just getting it done. Don’t be lazy!

5. Bug and tar remover: One of my old favorites is Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover. It is a thick liquid that gently soaks into tar and bug residue. It is easy to use and won’t dull your paint. One thing to remember is to always work in the shade when using this type of chemical. Sunlight reacts with even this mild type of solvent and can cause some serious damage.

6. Wheel cleaner: Like wax, there are quite a few brands of wheel cleaner designed to get that tough layer of brake dust off of your car wheels. Two of my favorites are Meguiar’s All Wheel Cleaner and Mothers brand wheel cleaner. These products are safe on all types of wheels: painted, polished or chrome. Just be sure to read and follow the directions on the label.

7. Leather conditioner: Taking care of your car’s leather interior really helps protect your investment. There are quite a few brands that will work very well. My favorite is a little harder to find, but I believe it is worth the effort in tracking down. It is called Connolly Hide Food. This product does not contain any silicone, which can keep your leather from breathing. This leather food leaves a mild shine on the leather and is not slippery to the touch. Basically, your butt won’t slide on the seat!

8. Oil: You have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a brand of oil. The first thing to do is read your owner’s manual for the grade of oil your car calls for. Some of my favorite brands are Castrol and Mobil 1. In general I like to go with the synthetic blends over conventional ones. From what I have read, these oils provide superior lubrication. Keep a quart on hand and check your oil level at about every fourth fill-up with gas – especially if you are driving an older car. If your car does have some higher miles on it, check the oil level more often. Driving with low oil will damage your engine.

9. Jumper cables: Keep a pair of jumper cables in the trunk. It is great insurance that you can get your car started when the battery is dead. Always check your owner’s manual for proper jumper cable connections. Be safe.

10. First-aid kit: It goes without saying that this is a good thing to have in your car. You never know when you might have to deal with an injury. Be sure to plan ahead.

11. Food and drinking water: Ever been stopped in a major traffic jam that lasts for hours? This happens a lot to me, living so close to mountain passes for skiing. It could be a jackknifed semi or avalanche control. It is just good insurance to have some food and water in the car at all times.

12. Blanket: If you get stuck in cold weather, something like a blanket makes good sense. You can’t let the car idle for hours to get heat – the last thing you want to do is run out of gas.

13. Extra clothes and shoes: You never know what Mother Nature will throw at you. Having a dry and clean change of clothes is just a good idea.

14. Fix a flat: I always carry a can of tire inflator in the car. Sometimes it just isn’t safe to change a tire on the side of a narrow road – particularly one without a good shoulder. This stuff is easy to use. Just hook up the can’s hose to your tire nozzle and push the button. In most cases, your tire will fill up and buy you enough time to get the tire replaced or repaired.

15. Cell phone charger: Where would we all be without our cell phones? If you need help while on the road, you don’t want your cell phone battery to be dead. Chargers aren’t too expensive these days, and having an extra one in the car can give you some peace of mind. Just don’t forget the phone!

Many of these items should be carried in the car at all times for emergencies. The car care products should be on hand at home. It is just a good idea to be prepared wherever you go. You can’t always expect help to be around the corner.

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