11 Adulting Tips About Cars

Adulting is hard. Not only do we get kicked out of the nest and sent hurtling toward the ground in nothing but an entry-level job, we’re also expected to do our own laundry and dishes. In fact; we need to responsibly handle many adult tasks like money management, simple repairs, basic plumbing, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and a ton of car-related stuff.

We are even expected to change our own light bulbs!


In light of that, I’ve devised a list of car tips to pass on:

  1. Research how to buy a car, be smart when working with dealers, and always get a good mechanic to look at your ‘new’ car.
    Salesmen are shifty in any form. I hope many are honest, but all humans who work at selling for a living are going to want to sell you something.
    I know people who were taken advantage of. Even with our last (dealer) purchase; we were told a guaranteed price over the phone, then told (after signing initial paperwork) that price was only if we went with their finance plan.
    I’d also recommend against falling for The Talking-Up. We very nearly agreed to a sports version of the sedan we wanted. Later we found out they require more expensive fuel, more expensive parts, and are often not covered by insurance companies.
    A final note: you can always, always walk away. For all two of our dealer purchases, we’ve stayed past closing time to complete the sale. They want you to stay because you’ll likely change your mind if they let you leave.
  2. Get a good mechanic.
    Ask around. Encourage that car junkie nephew. Slip a buck to the guy you’re buying your car from and throw in a wink. A good, homegrown, honest car mechanic is worth his weight in gold, and will often charge half what the dealers and car repair chains will.
  3. Don’t fall for shady repair shops or their gimmicks.
    Even with knowing a great guy, I get our oil changed at a Jiffy Lube sort. Every time, they have the same schtick: pull out my filters or wipers, put on a sad face, and tell me they can replace them for X amount.
    Bro, I can replace them for half of X. Honestly, I can do the oil myself (see tip #6).
  4. Research and sign up for a good, honest automobile insurance company that is a fair cost.
    Our first company (*cough* Allstate *cough*) charged twice as much as our current one. We had to use them till we could qualify for the other, otherwise we would not have dumped the extra money where it didn’t need to be dumped.
    Don’t run after the first cheap insurance salesmen standing under a lamp in the bad part of town, but do shop around. Do your research; ask friends.
  5. Learn a few, basic maintenance skills.
    From fluids to windshield wipers to batteries, a lot of basic car repairs are simple. Most vehicle manufacturers know we rarely pop the hood ourselves anymore, but you can still get to the parts that need frequent attention.
    Once, I got a *titch* close to another minivan’s side view mirror. Instead of banking on seven years’ bad luck, I called my mechanic. He recommended ordering a replacement from the dealer. Ignoring the dealer’s dire warnings, I watched a YouTube video and did the repair myself.
  6. Change the oil when the car says to, and do so correctly.
    If you have the time and body for it, learning to change your own oil can be a money-saver. It is, however, often an inexpensive enough repair to Jiffy Lube it.
    Once upon a time, I convinced my husband to change the oil ourselves. Purely coincidentally, both cars dried out and required new transmissions within a month.
    We don’t talk about it, but now I always take our cars to the shop.
  7. Do not speed over speed bumps.
    Our minivan required new shocks and struts about two years ago. My mechanic scratched his head, telling me they usually didn’t need them so soon.
    “So,” I said in a joking manner, “You mean I shouldn’t speed over speed bumps?”
    He and his assistant laughed, then saw my face. “Wait; you’re serious….”
    Embarrassing Car Lesson #1 for me: hitting bumps and dips is bad for the car. Always take them like a grandma holding a full glass of iced tea.
  8. Use the correct fuel in the gas tank.
    I’ve done this one once, too, but not to my own car. We’ll call it Embarrassing Car Lesson #2. I borrowed a relative’s pickup truck, certain they’d said to use diesel. Yeah; nope. We caught it pretty quick and had to have all the gas pumped out. Now I triple-check.
  9. Don’t drive behind large trucks.
    Seriously. Those things are rock-hurtling, blind-spot-wielding barges. I love truckers and what they bring to America. Still, I’m not going to hug them. They need space.
  10. Get a good windshield repair person.
    Even with learning to back off and away, I went through a rash of rock chips that culminated in replacement. My mechanic gave me a name (without any bribes, even!) and the poor windshield guy probably got sick of seeing my number pop up so often.
  11. Tires!!
    Find a place that sells good quality tires. Rotate your tires. Replace your tires when they need it. For me, I recommend Costco. They even rotate and refill the air for free.

That’s about it for me. What other car advice would you add? Do you have any interesting experiences?


Check out your car, and what I wrote this past week:
Wednesday, September 18: Observed that people crop up again in life in “Don’t Burn Bridges in Life (Seriously).”

Thursday, September 19: “The Little Things,” a poem about bereavement.

Friday, September 20: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Trent!

Saturday, September 21: Announced the 44th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is an acrostic to a celebrity. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, September 22: “The Sweetest Interlude,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, September 23: An inspirational quote by Len.

Tuesday, September 24: “Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Five.”

Wednesday, September 25: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “I Have No Advice,” “I Didn’t Want to Be a Mother,” and “You Just Can’t Win” (a poem).


Photo Credits:
Hosea Georgeson
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Chad Kirchoff


©2019 Chelsea Owens

10 thoughts on “11 Adulting Tips About Cars

  1. My youngest daughter was going through a messy divorce and went to visit a friend out of town. Being stressed, she did not pay enough attention and filled her car up with what she thought was regular gas but discovered when she went to pay for it that she had bought diesel. Needless to say she had some expense getting the car towed to a garage where the diesel was removed and gas added. We laugh about it now but at the time it only added to her stress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry! It’s expensive to sort out. My more car-knowledgeable brother-in-law told me that diesel in an unleaded engine is fixable but unleaded in a diesel isn’t, so at least there’s that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. While I’m sure there are plenty of honest car dealers out there, many car dealerships will take advantage of unsuspecting customers. If you don’t want to get ripped off, you have to do your research. Here are some of the typical song and dance moves to be ready for:
    1. The car dealership starts their asking price too high. When they reduce it so much, they create the illusion that you are getting a great deal.
    2. You get a decent buy on the car you’re buying, but then they undervalue your trade-in.
    3. The salesperson is helpful and acts like he/she is your friend. They go present each of your offers to the sales manager. “The sales manager appears at some point and cries poor. “We simply can’t sell the car for that or we won’t make any profit.” Cue the violins. It’s a bunch of nonsense. I bought a vehicle three months ago where they told me that, and they came down twice more, but only as I was walking out of the dealership. Funny how that works.
    4. You have agreed on the price, and you think you’ve cut a deal. Not so fast, my friend—here comes the finance manager. “We only agreed to that price if you finance from us.” That is another standard ripoff because you can get financing on your own for less.
    5. When you think there can be no other BS, here comes somebody to try and sell you an extended warranty or a special on preserving the interior with some magical treatment. Don’t fall for it.

    One final point—everything, and I mean everything, is negotiable except for tax and license fees. One of the classic last-minute moves is to charge a ridiculous amount for preparing the documents. You have to be prepared and know what they should charge for this service.

    If I sound like a skeptic, I am. I have had every one of these things pulled on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If you get a crack in your windshield, try contacting your car insurance to see if they can fix it for free. It worked out for us once. I also recommend AAA.

    And YouTube is great. I’ve fixed a rear truck light with it and replaced a side mirror. Voila.

    Liked by 1 person

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