Owning a car of your own is essential in many of the states in America, not least in California. With limited public transport options, driving is often the quickest and easiest way to get anywhere. Because driving is such an everyday occurrence it’s important not to forget the basics. This article is a reminder of six important things that you need to do if you have a car.
1. Keep Your Vehicle Registered
Every car on the road must be registered and this registration must be renewed annually. As this isn’t a very regular occurrence it can be easy for it to slip your mind. However, you must make sure that your auto registration is up to date at all times. The police may pull you over to check, and each time they catch you the penalty fines are multiplied. This means that a small amount of forgetfulness could quickly lead to thousands of dollars worth of fines. If you fail to renew for 6 months, your car could even be impounded! Keep a reminder in your calendar for a week or two before it’s due to expire, that way you should never end up in a sticky situation.
2. Insurance That Has Got Your Back
Probably the most important thing you can do when you have a car is getting good insurance because having one is legally required in California but you must get a decent policy. Finding a quote that doesn’t have a huge excess and also covers you for even minor incidents will put your mind at ease. This might require a bit of shopping around, but if you don’t read the small print you might end up with something that seems better than it is. Insurance is expensive and it can be tempting to go for the cheapest option. The problem is that it is often cheap for a reason and they may well be cutting corners which could leave you exposed to huge financial peril.
3. Get Your Car Regularly Checked
When you’re busy commuting or running errands it’s easy to forget to check in with how your car is doing. If you’re driving around a lot, you might get so used to that strange sound that happens when you accelerate that you almost don’t hear it anymore. Having a fresh and skilled set of eyes give your vehicle a once over is important in maintaining its health. Most minor issues can be fixed quickly and cheaply, but if these problems are left to get worse they could become costly. Find a local mechanic and build up a relationship with them. Visit every few months and if you notice anything out of the ordinary make sure to take your car in straight away.
4. Know The Local Driving Laws
In the U.S., many states have slightly different rules for what you are allowed to do on the road. In California, as you may know, it is illegal to operate any wireless communication device whilst driving, unless it is mounted to the windshield, dashboard or, center console. In New Hampshire, you could be fined $500 for passing a stopped school bus! There are many minor differences when driving state to state so it’s always best to look up any specific laws that apply where you are going.
5. Park In Secure Car Parks
It’s not nice to always assume the worst is going to happen but sometimes it’s sensible to consider what could go wrong. Coming out of the mall with your shopping and finding that your car has been vandalized or worse, stolen, would be very unfortunate. One way you can be sure that this won’t happen is to always park in secure, paid, car parks. Although this an extra expense, it’s a small trade-off to make sure you don’t lose your car!
6. Carry Spares And Miscellaneous Extras
Even if you live in a sunny part of the world, it’s always worth having a few bits and bobs in your trunk at all times. The first thing would be a spare tire. Having one of these stored for emergencies could save you a lot of hassle. The other thing you might want to consider would be some tire chains for driving on snow or ice. Having a few other items in your trunk like; water, a jerry can with some gas in it, and maybe a torch too would mean you were prepared for almost any eventuality.
Hit The Road, Jack!
Owning a car is a freeing thing, it allows you to go almost anywhere. As long as you stay within the limits of the law you could set off tomorrow on a new journey. Remembering a few important things; good insurance, registering your vehicle, and getting regular check-ups you could be almost as free as a bird. Hopefully, this article has made you think a little about some basics that may not always be at the forefront of your mind.