A Mum\’s Guide to Maintaining the Family Car

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If you’ve ever had to replace your vacuum filter because it was clogged with Goldfish crackers, chances are, you have kids and you’ve seen first hand the havoc they can wreak on your ride. Just because you’ve broken down and bought a loser-cruiser (i.e. mini-van) or traded in your sporty car for something with a hatchback doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to a life in the Mummy ghetto.

If you’re a Mum who wants to keep your car looking maintained – if not pristine – then follow these tips.

1) The Art of Organisation

I know, I know. You already have to organise playdates, field trips, appointments, games and recitals: organising your vehicle can seem like a real drag. I’m not going to say it’s going to be the highlight of your child-rearing life, but if you implement a simple organisational system in your car now, it will free up room and save time.

Totes are great to store books, crayons, paper, toys games, snacks and movies, which will come in handy on long family outings. Have one bag for electronics, one for books, one for toys and one for drawing and colouring. Sure, you may experience overflow now and then and have to thin your stores, and your kids will toss stuff in the wrong tote occasionally, but reorganisation is quick, and it’s better than having this clutter sprawling across your floor.

2) Garbage

And speaking of organisation, make sure your trash gets where it needs to go. Have a pop-up garbage collector on board to collect your refuse. If you don’t have the room or inclination to have a separate one for waste, recyclables and compost, toss it all into one and sort later. (And seriously, don’t forget to put these things in order. You’re leaving this world to your children. Make sure they know how to treat it.)

3) Seat Covers

Get high-quality seat covers that are made to take a beating and withstand frequent washing. Take it from me: it’s a lot easier to wash cotton candy vomit out of a seat cover in the laundry machine than it is to scrub it out of the car’s upholstery.

4) Polish and Shine

About more than aesthetics, using a plastic, rubber and vinyl polish can help protect your car’s interior from your kids. When your daughter colours in her cup holder with crayon, it’s a lot easier to remove from a polished surface. Trust me.

5) Get Wired

This tip is especially helpful for families with pets. A wire brush is a great way to loosen up caked on dirt and remove pet hairs from the floor. Just vacuum to complete the floor treatment.

6) Wax On

You’re in a rush, but don’t skimp on getting your vehicle waxed. This can help protect it from minor knicks and sun damage. If you don’t want to break out your inner Karate Kid, opt for the luxury wash at your local gas station, and you’re golden.

7) Oil Change

Changing your car’s oil is actually super easy. If you can change a diaper after an explosive poop without getting any on your hands or in your hair, you can change your own oil. However, if you don’t want to take on a DIY oil change, then at least make sure to get it done regularly. If your vehicle has a warranty, not getting regular oil changes could make it void. (In some cases, you have to get it at certain affiliate businesses.)

8)  Undercoat

Undercoating may be an option when you buy your car, but it’s really a must. If your vehicle is not already undercoated, getting it done is a crucial part of maintenance. Undercoating will protect the underside of your car from rust and corrosion, thereby prolonging the life of your vehicle.

This is probably not a project you want to take on yourself, since the undercoating is toxic, and it can get messy in the hands of an amateur.  It’s usually just over $200, so it’s not cheap, but it’s not exactly cost-prohibitive either – and it will save you big bucks in the long run.

9. Tire TLC

Rotate your tires a couple of times a year between front and back, so they wear evenly. If your tribe is on the road a lot, you may need to rotate them more often.

Safe and sane travels, Mums!

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