As we get around from day-to-day, heading to work, the next job or weekend getaway, we’re always making assumptions about things that we see, from a man in a suit to a dog on a chain, and it’s the same thing with cars, automatically making assumptions about them (and their owners) based on what we see. So, what message does your car shape send?
Car Shape: Clean and Crisp
A clean and crisp car speaks volumes about the owner. Whether it’s a budget Corolla or a weekend Mustang, a clean car says that the owner is not only conscious of appearances, but that they care about their belongings. These people know that car maintenance isn’t a monthly car payment, but a long-term commitment, and that keeping it in good shape will help it last longer.
Chances are, if what you can see is nice and clean, then the rest of the car has been well taken care of, and you’d likely find maintenance records up to date. In the end, a clean car tends to be more reliable, even if you buy one second- or third-hand.
Car Shape: Old and Crusty
Unfortunately, not everyone takes care of their cars, and even a late-model car can look like an old and crusty car, with sufficient neglect. Like anything, a car is not a one-time investment, and even paying cash doesn’t get you out of the long-term investment in time and maintenance that a car needs to maintain its performance, reliability and looks. A neglected car says that the owner hasn’t taken this into consideration, and regular cleaning, maintenance and repair are more of an afterthought than a serious consideration.
More than likely, the owner of the crusty car, having not paid attention to the outside of his car, has done little to take care of the things unseen, such as the engine and transmission. Chances are, this kind of neglect will start to show itself in very little time, in the form of advancing corrosion, offensive odors and drivability problems.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way …
How to Send the Right Message
Fortunately, keeping your car in clean-and-crisp condition mainly requires three things:
- Clean regularly. Your car has a lot of surface area, inside, outside, trunk, underhood and underbody, each of which has specific needs when it comes to cleaning. Regular cleaning not only makes your car look good, but can also prevent exterior, underhood and underbody corrosion and help your interior last longer.
- Maintenance. Sticking to your regular factory maintenance schedule does for the inside of your car what cleaning alone can never do. Stay on top of engine oil changes, engine coolant condition, automatic transmission fluid level and condition and brake fluid condition, and these parts will reward you with reliable performance for years to come.
- Repair promptly. Even the best-cleaned and best-maintained car may suffer a fault — the check engine light might come on for a faulty sensor, or you might hear a rattle for a loose suspension component. Do not ignore these things! They may not seem extremely important, but collateral damage may create an even bigger problem down the line. A faulty sensor will kill your fuel economy, or a misfire might cost you thousands in catalytic converters.
Bottom line, if you take care of your car, she’ll take care of you right back.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on what message your car shape sends, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Foter
Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.