Why Wash Your Car?

car washCar washing was always one of the most hated chores in our household. It usually meant an entire afternoon in the sun, scrubbing down a month’s worth of dirt and grime from a vehicle. Often, we would just skip it, and let the vehicle go another month without being washed. And why not? While a little bit of dirt on the car might not make it look great, it certain wasn’t hurting the car was it? It turns out that washing and waxing your vehicle is about far more than just making your vehicle look great. In fact, regular washing can prolong the life of your paint job, prevent scratches, and simply make your car work better. Here’s why you should wash your car:

1. Keeps your windshield clear – Nothing is more frustrating that driving and realizing that you cannot see through your windshield as the sun shines on it. While you can often clear it up a little bit if you use fluid and your wipers, you are simply not going to be able to get a thorough clean unless you actually was your car. It’s also important to remember that your front windshield is not the only window in your vehicle. You cannot clear off your side or back windows just by spraying them down and using your wipers.

2. Keeps your headlights clear – Over time, your headlights will start to accumulate dirt and dust, which can make their lights dimmer and make it more dangerous for you to drive at night. If you regularly wash your vehicle, you probably will not have to worry about your headlights becoming so cloudy that they do not effectively light the road that you are driving down. As one of the most basic and important safety features on your vehicle, make sure that they are properly cared for.

3. Helps to prolong the life of your paint – The paint job on your vehicle is not going to last forever. We’ve all seen those vehicles, where the paint has started to chip or strip away. Before the elements can do this to your paint, they have to work through the wax and sealant on your vehicle. This usually occurs because of grime and dirt on the surface of your vehicle. Any time you brush up against a dirty car, you scratch that car. If you do not regularly remove the dirt, it can actually become like sandpaper as you drive. The longer the dirt is allowed to cake up on the surface of your vehicle, the more damaging it becomes.

4. Helps to prevent chemical damage – Especially after the winter, when most communities put rock salt or chemical deicer on the roads to help keep them clear, it is likely that your vehicle has accumulated chemicals that could be eating through the paint. Even run of the mill sap that drops from a tree onto the hood of your car can quickly eat away the sealant and paint, leaving behind just the metal, which is now susceptible to rust. Even slightly acidic rain could seriously damage your vehicle. If you live in a city where there is pollution, each time it rains, that pollution is likely being rained down on your vehicle, where it can start to eat away at the paint job. Regular washings prevents this from happening.

5. Makes your vehicle look nice – Nothing can make your prouder of your vehicle than washing it. A thorough wash, using the right detergents and followed by a wax, can make your vehicle look just as beautiful as the day you bought it.

Image

 

Now that you know it is important for you to wash your vehicle, how do you actually keep it clean? There are essentially two ways that you can wash your vehicle. The first is by hand and the second is by taking it to a car wash.

What are the benefits of choosing hand washing? When you get up close and personal with your vehicle, you can see where it needs the most attention. Some vehicles, especially those with aggressive styling, will often accumulate dirt and grime in areas that might be difficult for an automatic car wash to clean away. When you are washing by hand, you can easily find those areas and buff them clean. The issue that most people have with hand washing, however, is that they do not know how to do it safely. If you use a sprayer on your hose, you might actually be creating the problems that you are trying to solve by washing away the dust and dirt that has settled on your vehicle.

It is important to use the right detergents and to thoroughly dry your vehicle once you have washed it. Not only will you be left with water spots if you do not hand-dry your vehicle, you might be left with water spots that can eat through your paint and ruin it.

An automatic car wash is a great alternative for most car owners. These usually have settings that wash the undercarriage of your vehicle, which is an area that can be difficult to get to when you are handwashing your vehicle. They are also usually designed so that the water pressure is high enough to clear away the dirt, but not so high that it will peel the paint off of your vehicle. You can find one that will apply wax and other coatings to your vehicle to further protect it from the elements, too.

Simple Tricks that Make Keeping Your Car Clean Easy

car cleaningThere is probably nothing as annoying as trying to keep your car clean. No matter how careful you are about removing trash from your car or knocking snow off of your shoes before you get in, your car is going to get a little grimy and dirty inside. Keeping your car clean can make it a much more enjoyable vehicle to drive, but you do not want to spend as much time cleaning your car as you do actually driving it. Here are a few simple tricks that can help you keep your car clean:

1. Use rubbing alcohol to keep your windshield wipers clean. We’ve all experienced it: you turn on your wipers and instead of actually cleaning your windshield, they just push the grime and dirt around, making your window streaky and difficult to see through. This can be such a serious problem that you have to pullover, get out, and actually physically clean your wipers off. Sometimes, even spraying washer fluid does not do the trick. Soaking a paper towel with a little bit of rubbing alcohol and then running it along the rubber part of your wiper will help to remove built up grime that causes that streaking and will prevent it from building up again.

 

2. Use a stiff brush to scrub your carpets. If your carpets are stained and are starting to look a little gross, the best thing you can do is take a stiff brush to them. This type of brush can help to lift of dirt and stains, before vacuuming them up, shampooing them with a machine, or spraying them down with a hose. This step is one of the best ways to get oil and street grime off of your carpeting. When your carpets look clean, the entire car looks cleaner, so do not skip this step.

 

3. Keep a duster in your vehicle and use it at stop lights. Dust starts to build up on your dashboard and console almost immediately. The best way to get rid of it? Keep a duster in your glove box and whenever you are stuck in traffic or at a long red light, break it out and use it to pick up that dust quickly and cleanly. Then, you can just store the duster again, until you need to use it. Your car will look much cleaner when there is not a fine layer of dust over everything.

4. Pick up a chamois. You’ll be surprised at how many uses you find for the chamois in your car. Not only can you use it to defog the interior of your windshield, it can also be used to quickly clean up any spills or drips that occur while you are driving. You might also want to use it dry off your car after you go through an automatic car wash. Air drying is okay, but you’ll get a much shinier, spot-free finish if you actually get out of the car and towel it off after washing.

5. Do not wash your car on a sunny day. On a very hot, sunny day is the worst time to wash your car. Why? Because the sun and heat will cause the water to evaporate very quickly off of your car, leaving soap deposits and water spots behind. Instead, try to wash your car on a cloudy, warm day, where the car will stay wet until you are ready to thoroughly rinse it. You might also want to wait until the car has cooled down after driving it in order to wash it.

6. Slide your seats forward when you start vacuuming. It can be tempting just to vacuum the part of your floorboard that you can see. You will get a much more thorough clean if you take the time to move your seats forward before you actually start vacuuming. That way, you’ll pick up dust, dirt, and debris hiding under your seats, which may find its way out onto your otherwise clean carpets if you ignore it. Once you are done, slide the seats all the way back to make sure you’ve gotten everything that might be hiding underneath those seats.

7. Keep a trash bag in your car. One of the things that can make your car look messy and unkempt are old receipts, food wrappers, notes, and scraps of trash that get left around your car, simply because you do not have anywhere to put them while driving. Keeping a trash bag in your car, somewhere like under a seat where you can grab it easily and then stow it when you do not need to use it, is a great way to corral all of those tiny pieces of trash and prevent your entire car from becoming a trash can.

8. Use cola to get rid of streaks on your windshield. This may be one of the stranger suggestions, but it definitely works. Start by putting a towel along the bottom of your windshield. This will protect your paint job from the acid in the soda. Then, fill a glass with cola. Pour it over the exterior of your windshield, making sure to evenly distribute it. The bubbles in the soda help to get rid of grime. Once the job is done, rinse very thoroughly with water to keep the acid and sugar from harming your vehicle.

Image

 

Use these tips and it will be fast and easy to keep your car looking great!

What Winter Does to Your Car – And How to Stop the Damage

Winter can be just as hard on your car as summer can be. Cold, harsh weather, and even the dryness that comes along with being parked in the garage, can all damage not just the exterior paint of your car, but the underlying metal components, too. In our part of the country, winter can start in early November and continue on well into what should be spring. How can you prevent your car from being damaged by a punishing winter? Here are some of the ways winter can damage your car and what you can do to prevent that damage:

Ice Melt and Your Paint

Winter is usually when your car gets its dirtiest, and when there are the fewest number of days when it is safe to wash your car. Ice melt, which helps to keep our roads safe to drive, can be caustic to your car’s paint job, if not routinely washed away. Many counties have stopped using ice melt on the roads, as it eats not just at the road, but also at your car.

Ice melt, sometimes called brine, is usually a mixture of water, salt, and magnesium chloride. It’s widely used because it is really great at lowering the freezing point of water, making it harder for water to freeze on the roads, and eliminating ice and snow. The mixture is highly acidic, however, and has been routinely pointed to as one of the major causes of road wear.

As often as there is a warm day, take advantage of the warmth, run out, and get a professional car wash—one where they spray the underbody of the car. Washing away the brine as quickly as possible is the best way to prevent it from corroding your paint.

Rock Salt and Your Car

Rock salt, like ice melt, can be very damaging to your car, in a variety of different ways. Rock salt can even be more damaging to your paint, as it doesn’t just get in chips and dents to speed up the rusting process and eat away at your paint, it can actually cause the chips in your paint.

Salt is also used to clear roads of ice and snow, and because it can provide traction while also keeping the road clear, it is preferred in some communities. The salt is very corrosive. It can ruin asphalt just as readily as it ruins your car’s paint and metal components, for the same reasons that here by the Atlantic Ocean, our cars rust faster than those of people who live far away from the ocean.

Like ice melt, the best way to deal with rock salt is to wash your car as often as possible, in a car wash that either automatically cleans the undercarriage of the car or gives you the option of doing it yourself. Getting rid of as much of the salt residue as possible is the only way to prevent the rust that will inevitably follow salt deposits.

Image

Cold Weather

Can cold weather really damage your car? Yes, it can. Most of our cars have a myriad of rubber components, ranging from the windshield wipers to vital belts and hoses around the engine. Rubber can be seriously affected by cold weather (as it can by hot weather). Cold stiffens rubber, making it less pliable, and therefore, less functional and more likely to rip, tear, or break. Many people will notice that their windshield wipers are less effective during the winter. This is because the cold rubber cannot conform to the shape of the windshield.

The newer the rubber components are, the less affected they will be by colder weather. That doesn’t mean that you need new hoses and belts every single winter, it just means that you should have these components checked out before cold weather sets in. If they are already stiff and cracked, they are probably not going to be helped by colder weather.

Cold weather can also be damaging to the metal parts of your car. If any of them have cracks that can be invaded by water, it is possible that expanding freezing water can turn those cracks into full failures. Regular maintenance can help to prevent this.

Something else that cold weather does to your car? Kills your battery. An old battery that may have been functioning perfectly fine in the winter can die overnight in the freezing cold of winter. There really is no way to prevent this, and at some point, not even jumping the battery will revive it. Testing your battery before cold weather sets in can be a good way to know whether or not it is going to make it through frosty weather. Buying and replacing a battery is one of the easier repairs and is something that most car owners are capable of doing on their own.

Did you know that it can actually get cold enough to freeze the gasoline in your tank? It might not get cold enough this year to freeze the gasoline itself, but if there is any water in your gas tank, that could definitely freeze and cause you problems. A good way to avoid either of these two issues is to keep your tank more than half full. Not only will this prevent you from running out of gas if you are trapped in a long line of slow-moving cars on the interstate, it will also help to prevent any freezing liquids from damaging your gas tank.

A Very General Car Service Schedule

car servicesEvery car and the kind of service it will need and when it will need it are a little bit different. Drivers themselves are different, too. Some will use all of their windshield wiper fluid until it is completely gone. Others will continually top it off so that they never run out. The same principles apply to just about every other bit of routine maintenance that occurs on a car. Some drivers will hold out until the car absolutely needs maintenance. Others will get that maintenance as soon as the owner’s manual tells them to, whether or not the car actually needs it.

Many drivers might not know what kind of maintenance their car needs and how often the car needs it. This can lead to being duped by quick oil change places into maintenance you might not need or it can lead to putting of necessary service because you did not think that your car needed it. Here is a very general schedule of maintenance that your car might follow. Keep in mind that these dates will fluctuate depending on how often you drive your car, how far it is driven, the type of car you purchase, and other factors. In general, however, surveys of car service have shown that about a quarter of cars are driven with low or contaminated engine oil and that almost 90% of all cars on the road are in need of some kind of maintenance.

1. Tires – You should always be aware of how full your car’s tires are and how much tread they have left. This is something that can be done on your own, in your driveway, with a few simple tools. A tire gauge should be part of every car’s essentials kit, and should be used often to make sure that you have neither too much nor too little air in your tires. The tread on your tires can be tested with a penny (if you put the penny in, Lincoln’s head upside down, and the president’s head is covered, you have enough tread). Do this weekly or every two weeks. Tires should be replaced as soon as the tread is worn down below this point.

2. Windshield washer fluid – Some newer Kia vehicles will tell you when your windshield washer fluid is low. With an older model or different brand, you may have to actually pop open the hood and look underneath. Figuring out which container is your windshield washer fluid is usually very easy and it will have marks that tell you how full it should be and what level you should not let it get below. If you do not use your windshield washer fluid very often, you can probably do this check once a month or once every two months.

3. Engine oil levels – Again, if you have a newer Kia model, your vehicle will probably tell you when your oil levels are below acceptable limits. If your car starts to give you warning light or other indicator, this probably means that you should take your car to a service station as soon as possible. While many cars will give you a few weeks’ notice, many may not show you an indicator light on your dashboard until the problem is emergent. You can always check your own oil levels by following the instructions in your owner’s manual.

4. Battery – Most batteries need to be replaced every three to four years. Depending on where you live, how often you drive your car, how far you drive your car, and what type of batter you have, your battery might last much longer or might die on you every year. You can check your battery with a voltmeter (when the car is running). You should also check the connections (when the car is off) every three months or so to make sure there is no corrosion on the pegs or the connectors.

5. Rubber components – Your vehicle will probably have a few vital rubber components, ranging from your windshield wipers to your hoses and belts running in or around the engine. These components do wear out and they are susceptible to changes in weather. Check the hoses and belts in your vehicle every three months to make sure they are not cracked and do not need any replacements or repairs.

6. Air filters – No matter where you go to get your oil change, the service shop will probably check your air filters for you. Air filters, both for your air conditioning and for your engine are both extremely important and keeping these filters clean is a necessary part of keeping your vehicle running smoothly. Most air filters will need to be checked every six months. If you get your oil changed every three to six months, you probably will have this check automatically done for you.

7. Power steering fluid – Power steering fluid is that ensures that your car is responsive when you turn the wheel to tell it to do something. Like all other fluid in your car, it gets used up or contaminated over time. It should be checked every nine months to make sure the fluid is at the proper level and that it is not contaminated with anything.

Image

Most vehicles will have a maintenance schedule in their owner manual. If you have not been recording your dates of service or you cannot find your owner’s manual, use this general guide to make sure that your Kia is getting the service that it needs, when it needs it.

15 Car Hacks Every Driver Should Know

Keeping your car clean and functional isn’t always easy. Here are fifteen car hacks that you can use to make taking care of your car a little bit easier:

car hacks

1. Park facing the sunrise. How often do you get up in the morning and realize, just as you’re leaving for work or school, that your windshield is iced over? You can prevent having to remember to go out early and turn your car on by actually parking towards the sunrise. That way, the rays of the sun will melt off the frost for you!

2. Use hand sanitizer to unfreeze your handles. If your door handles and locks are so frozen that you cannot even use them, pouring a little bit of hand sanitizer (as long as it contains alcohol) onto the door will melt the ice and allow you to get your key into the lock or to pull open the door itself.

3. Use your floor mats to get traction on icy ground. If your car is stuck in a parking spot because it cannot get traction on the frozen ground, you can actually use your floor mats to get a little traction. Wedge them under your front tires and reverse, very slowly and carefully, onto them in order to gain the traction you need to move your car.

4. Store some cat litter in your trunk. Not only will the weight of heavy duty cat litter help to prevent your car from sliding on icy roads, you can always sprinkle a little bit of litter around your tires if you are having trouble getting your car moving again on icy or snowy roads. This is an inexpensive and very useful hack for those living in cold climates!

5. Toothpaste can clean your headlights. Over the years, your headlights will begin to look cloudy and dull. This can make your lamps dim and ineffective. You can clean your headlights with plain old toothpaste, on a paper towel. Just spread it onto your lights, rub it around, and carefully clean it off. They’ll be clearer and brighter!

6. Use newspaper to get rid of stickers. Here in the east, many drivers have toll stickers or other adhesives on their windshields. These can be very difficult to scrape off, even with a razor blade. Instead of using a razor blade, use a piece of wet newspaper. Press it against the adhesive that you want to remove and let it sit for about ten minutes. It should wet the glue enough that you can just peel the adhesive and the glue away.

7. Use a razor blade to combat stubborn bugs. During the summer, windshields can become littered with dead bugs. These dead bugs might not easily wash away with wiper fluid or even with scrubbing. You can use a razor blade to actually scrape away the residue of these bugs. Follow up the blade with a damp cloth to remove any lingering goo.

8. Use a plunger to pop out small dents. We all get small dents on our cars from hitting our doors against poles or very minor run ins with other cars. These dents are enough to take the car to the body shop, but they can be annoying. You can actually use a clean plunger to pop out those dents!

9. Fingernail polish can touch up small scratches. If you can find a shade of fingernail polish that exactly matches the color of your car, you can actually use this polish to fill small scratches in your paint. Because small scratches can still cause serious damage to your car, including creating an inlet for rust and more paint chipping, filling it with nail polish can actually protect your car from further damage. Just make sure that the color is close enough to the color of your paint or it will probably do more harm than good.

10. Get rid of extra weight. If you are storing something heavy in your car or are simply driving around items that you haven’t taken out yet, it’s time to get them out of your vehicle. The more weight you drive around, the worse your gas mileage is going to be. So, while that box of cat litter might be great during the winter, come spring, it’s probably best to take it out and not to lug around the extra weight.

11. Put a candle in your car to dispel stink. A candle in your cup holder is a great way to refresh the smell of your car while you’re not in it. The max will melt and give off its scent when your car heats up in the sun. When you get back in and turn on the AC, it will solidify again.

12. Put a dryer sheet in your vent. Lots of car air fresheners can be overpowering. You can add some subtle freshness to your car by sticking a dryer sheet in your vent. It will make your car smell like a fresh load of laundry, without being to fragrant.

13. Use your head to amplify the reach of your fob. If you’re wandering around a parking garage, trying to find your car, put your fob under your chin to amplify it’s reach.

14. Get rid of extra keychains and keys. A heavy keychain can put strain on your ignition, which is one of the most delicate components of any vehicle. Unburden it by getting rid of extra keychains and keys that are weighing it down.

Image

15. Keep your change in an old mint container. Instead of just letting your change accumulate in a cup holder, hold on to an old mint container and fill it with your change, instead.

Common Mechanic Scams and How to Avoid Them

scamNot every mechanic is going to try to scam you. The horror stories that some people will tell about being shown an air filter that is completely disgusting and being advised to pay to replace it, only to watch the mechanic insert that same air filter back into the car are few and far between. That doesn’t mean, however, that this doesn’t happen. When you bring your car to our service bay, you can be sure to find great, honest, hard-working mechanics that will get your car back in working order, without charging you thousands of dollars to do it.

We know that sometimes it’s just not possible to bring your car into our service department and that you will sometimes have to take it to another mechanic, who might not have that same standard of integrity. If you want to be aware of some of the common scams so you can avoid them, here are eight to watch out for:

Image

1. Do I really need new spark plugs? Thirty years ago, spark plugs really didn’t last that long and it was smart to have them replaced each time you went in for an oil change. Today, that’s really not necessary. Most cars should have an oil change every 5000 to 7000 miles (even up to 10,000, depending on your oil and what make and model you’ve purchased). For those that commute or live out in the country, that might be every six to twelve months. Most spark plugs have a life of 100,000 miles these days. Paying to have those sparkplugs replaced every time you have your oil changed is probably unnecessary.

2. The urge to opt for synthetic oil. If you’ve had your car’s oil changed at a Jiffy Lube recently, they’ve probably offered you a range of different oil choices, from regular, to synthetic, to blend, to even more expensive options. Regular oil is usually the cheapest, but most mechanics will recommend synthetic oil. It lasts longer—that’s true, and most car manufacturers do recommend it, but if you stick to your oil change schedule and get your car regularly maintained, there is really no reason to pay more for synthetic oil when regular oil will work just as well.

3. It’s time to change your air filters. Most cars today have their own systems that monitor their filters and let you know when it’s time for a change. Even if your car doesn’t have these diagnostic systems, it’s probably fairly obvious whether or not you need new filters when the mechanic shows them to you. Just make sure the filters they are showing you are actually your filters. Some unscrupulous mechanics will bring out a pair of disgusting filters, claiming that they’re yours and telling you that you need to pay to have them replaced, hoping that you will not know what your air filters look like or when your car is due for new filters. Get to know your filters, what they look like, and what your filter change schedule is.

4. Is it time for your transmission to be serviced? This is one of the reasons bringing your vehicle in to a dealership’s service department, rather than to a mechanic that isn’t familiar with your make and model. We will be able to tell if it really is time for your transmission to be serviced. Many mechanics will simply tell you that it is, without understanding your model or its history, and will charge for what is basically draining fluid that didn’t need to be drained and replacing it with new fluid that it didn’t really need.

5. Did you flush the cooling system? While your cooling system will occasionally need a flush, paying extra for this service when you don’t really need it can lead you to a more expensive visit to the mechanic than you were planning on making. Unless the coolant in your car is actually contaminated or is no longer working, there is really no need to flush the entire system and put in new coolant. You’ll be flushing money as your cooling system is flushed.

6. You need to recharge your air conditioning system. This is something that few of us have even heard of. Why would the air conditioning system need to be recharged? How does it lose charge? Unless you’ve noticed that your air conditioning is no longer as effective as it once was, there really is no reason to add more refrigerant. In some cases, this really is preventative maintenance, but often, there is no actually need to recharge your air conditioning system, especially if it is functioning just fine in your eyes.

7. Have you replaced your brakes recently? You obviously want your brakes to be functioning perfectly when you press down on that pedal to use them. Some mechanics will use this desire to encourage you to replace your rotors or pads before they are actually worn down. You can easily check your own brakes to make sure they are still functioning properly and have the right thickness, so do this before you take your car in for maintenance. If the mechanic tells you that the brakes are worn down when you know they’re not, he’s probably just trying to get you to pay for a service you don’t need.

8.Does the mechanic ask you to buy a new tire when you bring in a flat? Most of the time, especially with simple punctures and tears, it’s possible to patch a tire. It’ll take about five minutes and costs you about fifteen dollars (if that). Some mechanics will tell you that instead of “limping along” with tire that’s been patched, you should just buy a new tire. If they can legitimately patch the tire for you, there’s no reason to buy a new one.

20 Things You Should Always Keep in Your Kia

Whether you have just bought your first car and want to make sure it is properly outfitted or you are heading out on a summer road trip and want to have all the essentials before you are miles from civilization, here are the twenty things you should always keep in your Kia:

1. A paper map of your tristate area. Don’t be duped into think you’ll always have service or that your phone will always have a full battery. It may seem archaic, but you will be happy to have that paper map when you’re lost and your phone has no reception.

2. Change and a few bills. Whether you’re the kind of person who gives money to people on the side of the road or you’re likely to have to pass a toll booth in your travels, having change and a few dollar bills on hand is always a good idea.

kia car3. A compact umbrella. This is a fact of life: it will rain at the most inconvenient time. If you have an umbrella, a little rain won’t get in your way.

Image

4. A couple bottles of water. Put most of them in your trunk, but have one or two stashed in your Kia’s extra cup holders for when traffic stacks up or you have to wait on the side of the road.

5. Jumper cables. Not all new cars come with jumper cables. Many do, but if yours didn’t you’re going to want to go out and get a set. Not only will they save your car’s life if your battery dies (if you leave the dome light on all night, for example), but they give you the opportunity to be a Good Samaritan if you see someone else struggling with a dead car.

6. A roll of toilet paper. My sister-in-law always keeps a roll of toilet paper in her car, and it was a blessing when she was helping me move into my new apartment and we hadn’t done any grocery shopping yet. Plus, it will undoubtedly have plenty of other uses.

7. Granola bars. Keep a box of your favorite granola bars in your glove compartment or trunk. Why? Because going hungry in standstill, rush hour traffic is never a good idea.

8. Your registration. When it arrives in the mail, don’t just leave it on your kitchen table. Put it in your glove compartment. You might be a model driver, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never be pulled over.

9. A mini first aid kit. Even if you don’t anticipate ever getting carsickness or cutting your finger on the road, it’s better to be prepared than wanting in your time of need.

10. A spare phone charger. Especially if you commute to and from work, you’re going to want to be able to charge your phone at the beginning and end of each day—just don’t text and drive, okay?

11. A flashlight. LED is usually the best way to go—they use less battery and are therefore last much longer in your trunk or stuffed under the seat. They’ll also be your savior when you’ve dropped your phone under your seat or have lost an earring down the crevice between seats or especially when you have to change a tire in the dead of night.

12. Ice scraper and small shovel. Those who buy cars during the summer often forget these two essentials and don’t remember to buy them until their car is already buried in snow.

13. A package of sand or road salt. Not only can you use these two things to get traction if you’re stuck in a particularly icy or muddy spot, the weight of them in your trunk can help to prevent sliding and slipping on icy or snow roads.

14. A multi tool. At some point, you will probably need a pocket knife, a pair of pliers, or even a wire cutter. Having a tool that has all of these components is the best way to be prepared.

15. Hand wipes. My mother uses a hand wipe every time she gets into the car, especially after grocery shopping or walking around the mall. She’s a germaphobe, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should have some hand wipes in their car, just in case.

16. A pair of sunglasses. No matter the time of year, you’re probably going to be on the road just as the sun sinks into that perfect spot that is just barely eclipsed by your visors. A pair of sunglasses will ensure you can still see, even if it seems like the sun’s mission is to blind you.

17. A bag for trash. It could be a sandwich bag or a plastic shopping bag, or a trash bag—something to put straw wrappers and receipts and all the other detritus cars seem to accumulate throughout the week. Now, you won’t have to scoop everything up, it’ll be confined in a little bag you can just throw away.

18. A blanket. Just like you’ll want water and a snack if your car is sidelined on a summer day, you’ll want a blanket if your car breaks down in the winter. Also good for impromptu picnics.

19. Paper towels. The durable, garage version, not the flimsy kitchen version—for cleaning up spills and cleaning your hands after changing a tire.

20. Your owner’s manual. A surprising number of people take the owner’s manual out of their Kia. Don’t do it—it’ll tell you how to jump your car, replace a tire, and even just change the time on your radio clock.