My first new car!
July 15, 2011 5:31 PM   Subscribe

I am getting my first brand-new car in a couple of weeks. What should I do?

For a variety of unexpected and irrelevant reasons, I am selling my current car (which I got used) and buying my first brand-new car in the next couple weeks. I have the car all picked out so I don't need advice on that front. However, once I have it home, what do I need to remember to do? Is there anything you wish you had done when you first had a new car?

If it's relevant, I'm getting a sedan. I live in Missouri and do a lot of long-distance driving.
posted by thewestinggame to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Find the suggested maintenance schedule and put it in a new file where you should also keep receipts for any work you have done on the car (repairs, oil changes, etc.). That way you can check things off as you do them, increase the resale value of your car by having evidence of maintenance, and have the piece of mind to know that some important part you should have replaced 10000 miles ago won't wear out on a long road trip in the middle of nowhere.
posted by 12%juicepulp at 5:47 PM on July 15, 2011

Start tracking the gas mileage from the first fill-up. With our previous new car, we used a little notebook where we recorded trip odometer, total odometer, gallons, total cost. With my newer new car, I use fuelly on my iPhone.

Don't eat in the car (or do so infrequently). It makes the center console area surprisingly grubby with food crumbs even if you think you are being neat.
posted by cabingirl at 5:53 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Look for that little arrow on the dashboard that shows which side the gas tank is on, so you're not pulling up on the wrong side every. single. time.
posted by cashman at 5:56 PM on July 15, 2011

If you don't garage the car, make sure to keep it waxed, or coated with a polymer paint sealant, or blend of wax/sealants. Oxidation and sun fade are the #1 enemy of your paint and plastic exterior parts, and the longer you can forestall those processes, the better your car will look, and hold its resale value. Don't forget to use a weather stripping protectant regularly on the rubber seals around your doors and trunk, and find any drain holes in the body work, so that you can regularly inspect and clean them of any leaves or other debris. Water infiltration and blocked drain holes are places rust still starts, even in modern cars with their greatly improved rust protection. If your car still uses keyed door locks, make sure to put a little graphite lock lubricant in the door locks before winter, to help avoid frozen locks. Get in the habit of checking your oil at every gas fill up, and your tire pressure, brake fluid level, radiator coolant level, and battery weekly.
posted by paulsc at 6:07 PM on July 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

Do you have a garage? If you don't, get a car cover. If not a car cover, at least sun shields.

Congrats on your new car!
posted by punchtothehead at 6:08 PM on July 15, 2011

Ventilate it well for the first few months, especially if it's going to be carrying children. New car smell can be pretty nasty.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:19 PM on July 15, 2011

Learn where everything is - mirror adjustments, light switches, seat adjustments, dipstick, where you add oil/wiper fluid/transmission fluid, etc.

Do a test run on the spare tire and jack so your first experience with it won't be in the middle of the night in the rain on the side of the freeway.

If you have a dog that rides with you, get a seat cover. (We can hardly keep our lab out of our truck and the back seat is now upholstered in dog hair.)

My husband added, "program the radio and find out how fast it goes from zero to one hundred".

Drive safe!
posted by Beti at 6:25 PM on July 15, 2011

Oh and know how much gas you have left (or miles you can still drive) with the low-fuel light comes on.
posted by Beti at 6:26 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Check out the Popular Mechanics guide to breaking in a new car, some good info in there.

vroom vroom
posted by Specklet at 6:42 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Plan a roadtrip! No, seriously, this is important. You and your new car are at the start of a long, beautiful relationship. The journey metaphor exists for a reason. You need to know the limitations of your car. And where it shines. Does it look pretty with 5 days of desert driving dust? How far will it run past empty? Does it go unnoticed through speedtraps? Can you park it anywhere and find it later? What's the range of the electronic keychain lock? How's the radio antennae? What's the best seat settings for your sore buttcheeks after 8.5 hours on the road?

You will find out all the answers soon enough. But for now, you must chart the path.

"what do I need to remember to do?"

It is advisable to repeat at least once every six months.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:47 PM on July 15, 2011

"I live in Missouri and do a lot of long-distance driving."

Forgot to add, get a AAA membership, or if you already have one, make sure to get a new decal to put on this car, and have your membership info updated to reflect your new car.
posted by paulsc at 6:55 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Use a protectant on all of the rubber trim seals - around the doors and windows - do it every week for the first few months (then maybe just monthly). It helps keep all that rubbernlooking shiny and new instead of dried up and old. I wish I had done that to my last one like I did to my first one. Really makes a difference in the appearance of the car. Never use the shiny protectant on the dash unless you like glare. Congrats and don't breathe in too much new car smell, it's bad for you.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:09 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

I live in NYC and don't own a car, so I drive a lot of rental cars, car sharing, etc. I rented a Toyota Sienna a few weeks ago for a road trip and loved it. Rented a Buick something-or-other last week and hated it--for very surprising reasons. For example, the clock on the dashboard had a shiny encasement that would occasionally direct sunlight right in my eyes, and once reflected it instead to the front dome light and right into my eyes. There were other things too.

All I'm saying is this: you've picked out your car? Make sure you drive it in varying conditions and at varying times before committing. One test drive tells you if it feels right. Several test drives tell you if it lives right.
posted by etc. at 7:38 PM on July 15, 2011

Definitely get AAA if you don't have it already.

Since we're in the age of electronic everything, go ahead and program all your scheduled maintenance in an electronic calendar. Even if you don't use one day-to-day, I've found it's really useful to have to reminders of regular things like oil changes.

I just got a new car in January and I have vowed to keep my car as clean as possible. After 11 years of trashing my old car, I regret not being more careful. Keeping your interior and exterior clean and tidy will keep the car in much better condition. I also love how clean and tidy my new car is! Specifically:
- Wash it on a regular basis (you don't have to be obsessive, just not neglectful), because crap can deteriorate the clear coat. I've also gotten a little anal and I wipe off bird poop when I see it.
- Clean out leaves from the edges of the trunk and hood. They get really nasty and moldy and ruin the seals.
- Keep a lint roller and wipes accessible in the car, so that it's easy to do a quick wipe down of the seats and console.
- Shake out the floor mats occasionally so that dirt doesn't get ground in.

Dealerships love to sell you maintenance packages, but it's rarely a good deal (unless they throw in a free year of oil changes like mine did!). Now is the time to find a good mechanic and cultivate a good relationship with him/her. I always get my oil changed by my mechanic too - it's a few dollars more expensive than the chain oil/lube places, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that someone I trust is looking over my car and will notice any problems. A great mechanic will also tell you if your problem would be covered by a warranty or just plain cheaper/easier at the dealer.

Now is also a good time to restock your first aid kit and emergency pack (and whatever you people in snowy areas keep in your car for such issues), and maybe get one of those window-breaking hammers too.
posted by radioamy at 8:01 PM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Keep detailed service records. A notebook of repairs, receipts, and everything from oil changes to tire rotations to replacement parts.

It makes cars MUCH easier to sell, even at a slight premium, to have a full service record.
posted by SirStan at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Really pay attention to the break-in schedule. Vary your speeds, don't go too fast, etc. It'll be in the owner's manual.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:52 AM on July 16, 2011

+1 to protect the exterior with wax/sealant

Get Floorliners for Winter. I like mine so much I keep them in all the time and just store the floor mats that came with it. They're easy to clean (remove, spray off, brush up a little, dry and replace) and fully protect the carpets underneath from nasty winter moisture & salt.
posted by ijoyner at 9:58 AM on July 16, 2011

Beware of The New Car Curse and droive and park very defensively. In the early days the car's new gorgeousness tends to attract unwanted attention from people who enjoy vandalizing and who do car prowls, and your unfamiliarity with new car can lead to scrapes and bumps as well as fender benders. Seriously. Just be cautious the first few months
posted by bearwife at 10:02 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older is it okay to keep two kittens together during...   |   Chicago hotel recommendation Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.