The experience of having your first car--brand-new or used--is one of life’s greatest milestones. For those who were not born into wealth, the first car is a “level up” moment, an achievement level unlocked that is both exciting and just slightly nerve-racking.
First, you don’t have to commute anymore unless you really have to. You can go pretty much anywhere you want for as long as you have gas and toll money. But it also brings with it certain moments that will really test your mental tenacity, and possibly your emotional stability as well.
Like learning to parallel-park, for example. Or the anxiety you will feel the first time an engine warning light comes on, or when the temperature gauge needle starts climbing. Heck, even the simple challenge of changing a flat tire for the first time.
Before you head off to the shop for bigger wheels or that bitch-ass sound system, may we suggest you equip yourself first with the following essentials of daily driving. None of them will cost you a fortune, but we assure you that having them will greatly increase the pleasure you have out of driving your car, whether it’s a humble Kia Picanto or a ballsy Ford Mustang.
1. Driving sunglasses. Aviators and Wayfarers will never go out of style. Aside from the classic look, their large coverage will protect your eyes from glare and will make anyone feel like Maverick. If you’re nearsighted or suffer from astigmatism, invest in graded lenses so you can see properly. Or get Lasik. “Kick the tires and light the fires!”
2. Cleaning kit. Run over to the car-care section of the supermarket and get the following: several “chamois-type” and microfiber cleaning cloths, a big bottle of car shampoo, a sponge, a pail, a bottle of tire black, some fabric/leather shampoo, and some other odds and ends to keep your baby looking and smelling nice all year round. You’ll probably have your car washed outside most of the time, but doing the deed yourself with the right equipment every once in a while is great bonding time.
3. Driving shoes. Swap the rubber shoes, Crocs, flip-flops and any other kind of clunky footwear for proper driving shoes. These can be sneakers from Puma or Fila, with the thin soles that go up to the back of the heel to smoothen out your footwork, or slip-on loafers. Consult your fashionable friends on the proper sartorial combinations.
4. Phone holder and charger. If you like to use Waze or play tunes from your smartphone, a holder keeps your hands on the wheel while keeping the phone within your peripheral vision. Just don’t stick it right in front of you.
5. Trunk organizer or boxes. You’d be amazed at the stuff you’ll just toss inside the trunk as time goes by. A soft, foldable organizer helps keep things neat and orderly in there. Or you can opt for the larger, plastic boxes.
6. Car jack and cross wrench. You will get a flat tire several times in your life, and usually at the most inconvenient moments. A car jack and a cross wrench will drastically save you time and energy, as well as impress your companions when you single-handedly change a tire in less than 10 minutes.
7. Flashlight. Coupled with the jack and the cross wrench is the trusty flashlight. Don’t get the cheap plastic ones at the grocery. Get a sturdy, high-power Maglite or something similar.
8. Trash can. If the thought of used tissue and candy wrappers stuffed in your car’s door pockets makes you go "ick," a small bin will give your passengers a hint.
9. Air freshener. Once that new-car smell has faded away, your car will smell like your last workout and the Happy Meal you ordered at the drive-through.
10. A nice umbrella. If you saw Kingsman: The Secret Service, then you already know that gentlemen use a proper 'brolly. For obvious reasons, an umbrella will keep your head and your date’s head dry as you enter/exit the car during a downpour. Don’t rely on the gaudy, cheap corporate giveaways. Get a nice, understated, reasonably sized umbrella from the department store.
Artwork by Trixie Ison