A Driver’s Guide to Owning Your First Car

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Coming home with a new car is a good feeling, but coming home with your very first car is something else. The first-time owner of a car is often young; swinging up the driveway, typically nonchalant about it, but beaming on the outside. Instead of giving them all of those well-meant tips on everything from driving to checking the oil, why not help them with this handy guide? That nonchalant smirk might last a bit longer, but at least you can pretend that they figured it out all on their own – you know, for the sake of confidence.

Read the owner’s manual

It’s something that people can’t seem to stress enough, and often the first thing to pop up in these conversations. Don’t just take anyone’s word for how far your car can go before it needs an oil change – someone might tell you that changing the oil every 3k is excessive, but it could be just what your car needs. This could go the other way around too; someone told you to change it that often and you end up wasting money. Great. Just read the manual.  

Come to think of it; this rule applies to every machine you buy from now on. I never used to read the manuals myself, and looked at those who sat down with them after a new purchase as sort of – thorough. This thoroughness has proven to be handy so many times, though; and if you do read it, you’ll avoid feeling awkward when asked “have you not read the manual? Don’t you know how it works?”

Learn how to fix a car scratch

Regardless of who drove into who or what happened; everyone says it’s a must for all car owners to know how to take care of a scratch, so here you go. If you don’t have time to fix it right away, cover the scratch with a bit of tape. It will prevent the elements from making it worse.

Next, you should have a scratch repair kit handy – this article suggests a few of the best in 2017. If the scratch is superficial, not too deep or wide, that is, you can easily blend it in with the rest of the finish. It’s an emergency repair kit so don’t expect it to look like new – if that’s what you’re looking for, you can find touch-up paint in the auto-repair store.

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Prepare your glove box

This is the kind of advice your parents would love to give and so do we. There will come a time when a few things could come in handy, such as a torch, important phone numbers, a phone charger to use in the car or wipes for when you spill coffee all over the seat. In the winter, keep a blanket and some dry food in the car. Thousands of people get trapped in their car due to snow and ice every year, some of the stories are more horrific than others, and wouldn’t you just love yourself for a cosy blanket and chocolate bars when you’re scared and hungry?

Believe me, when you do need these things, you’ll deeply regret not having it laying around – as much as you regretted not putting on your raincoat that day as your dad told you to do.


When your car fails, it tends to do so spectacularly and it’s important to know what to do when something like this happens. Your driving school should have practised some of these techniques with you, such as how to avoid the swerving of your car in case of a tire blowout, and calmly reaching the side of the road if it overheats or the power steering fails. Read a bit about it for more details – it will only give you more confidence on the road, and is sure to make you look like a hero if something suddenly goes wrong.

If you want to be a safe driver, which you do, you’ll have trained most of this with a professional driving school. Have a look at the local ones for you or your teenager and make sure they do comprehensive emergency training; Drive Rite – Driving School, is a good option or just check this list out for what to look for in a driving school, plus some great tips on what to ask them before you decide.  

In case you drive off into water, make sure you have a tool handy for smashing the window. You might buy a handy window smasher and belt cutter as a tool on its own, or just keep a pocket knife and a hammer in the glove box at all times.

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Maintenance saves money

It doesn’t matter if you bought the car yourself or if your parents bought it for you – treat it with as much love and care as you did the first month, and it will love you back for it. First, wash and wax it often. This isn’t just to look flashy in the streets, but it prevents the paint from deteriorating. Keep your car out of the sun as well, wash it often if you live somewhere salty, like near the ocean or where they salt the roads, and consider washing it by hand if the machine wash could be too harsh on the paint.

A part of good maintenance is also to be smart when something unpredictable happens. Such as not driving on with a flat tire, as the damage it causes could see you paying for a new tire rather than patching up the old one. So many ways to maintain your car, so many ways to save money.

Learn to change a tire

It might be one of those things you’ve heard many times already, and you’ll hear it here too. Learn to change a tire, and it will save you from doing so for the first time over two hours at the side of a road, delayed and annoyed. Here’s a proper article on how to do it – although just reading through the basics won’t teach you much and even if it does, it’s not going to make much sense at the time you actually need it. Flatter your parent, sibling or neighbour by asking them to teach you; it will be good for both of you, as well as sparing you from a stressful learning experience when you least expect it.

Take breaks

Driving in traffic for the very first few times can be an overwhelming experience for many. With time and experience, you’ll learn to recognise when you should pull over and take a break – especially during longer drives. When it’s your first trips in traffic, it is likely that other drivers will make you flustered. Some of them are terrible drivers and shouldn’t be on the road, stressing you and your new car out, so just pull over and take a break if it gets too much. Everybody was new to driving once; knowing your limits in traffic is good for your own health and safety, fellow drivers’ safety as well as your car.

Be smart

Lastly, it is important to know that even though you’re driving is excellent; it’s often other people’s driving that gets you into accidents. Every single car around you is capable of making a stupid decision at any given time; if someone tells you to slow down, it just means they’re not feeling comfortable and should not be shrugged off. Listen to what the people in the backseat are saying about your driving; even though they’re not behind the wheel, they’re still in the car and depends on you to arrive safely.