Buying your first car is an exciting experience. It provides you with a level of freedom and independence which you may not have ever had before, allowing you to go where you want, when you want without having to rely on public transport or lifts from friends and family. However it's also a big responsibility and it's important to treat it as such. Here are a few tips for first-time vehicle owners.
Be prepared for a breakdown
Nobody wants to think about the possibility of a breakdown, but it is important to be prepared for this eventuality; even if you're an exceptionally careful driver and own a brand new vehicle, things can still go wrong and you may find yourself stranded on a country road or motorway with a broken car.
This can be a very stressful experience, particularly for first-time car owners who haven't gone through this ordeal before. However by keeping a small breakdown kit in your car, you can make this situation far less distressing. Some of the items you might want to include in this kit include a road map (in case your phone and GPS stop working), a small, reflective hazard triangle to prevent other motorists from driving into your vehicle, bottled water, an umbrella, a flashlight and the contact details of either a local towing services company or your breakdown assistance provider.
Get to grips with basic checks and repairs
Whilst you don't need to be automotive expert to own a car, you should try to familiarise yourself with your vehicle and learn how to carry out simple repair work and checks. This will reduce the likelihood of a breakdown and will enable you to handle minor issues without needing to call for help.
Every first-time car owner should, for example, learn how to change a tyre; flat tyres are a common problem which happen to almost every driver at one point or another. It is a skill that could save you a lot of stress and hassle, particularly in cases where severe weather conditions or poor mobile reception prevents your breakdown service or friends from coming to assist you.
It's also important to get into the habit of checking the tyre pressure regularly; having the correct level of pressure will make steering your car easier and will slow down the deterioration rate of your tyres. Consider investing in an air pressure gauge, so that you don't have to track down a garage every time you want to carry out this check.
Lastly, make sure that you know what each of the warning lights in your car represents. The illumination of one of these lights can signify a serious issue which needs urgent attention; for instance, the engine light switching on could indicate that the oil has run out. If this isn't addressed quickly, it could lead to the engine overheating and the car's rings and pistons becoming irreversibly damaged.