Friday, June 20, 2014

How Do You Baby Your Car?

Yes, this Subaru is in our driveway.
Photo: Erika JN Fish
We have two vehicles and a one-and-one-half-car garage. I've always wondered about the size of our garage; it's wider than a one-car, but not wide enough for two. Our house was built in the 1960s when cars were long and wide. So maybe this was considered a one-car garage back then. Now it's just a weird size. I refer to it as our one-car-and-a-moped garage because that's all that will fit once we hang up our bikes and all those reusable Trader Joe's bags. 

One Car, Two Car, Clean Car, Poo Car
Shiny, Happy Q7
Photo: Erika JN Fish
This is really a post about how I don't baby my cars. With kids and dogs and work, I just push that chore down the list. I have neighbors who baby their cars; washing and waxing and polishing headlights. I'll add "regularly wash and polish cars" to my list of Things I Really Ought To Do. 

I wish we had room in the garage for both cars because one car will be in the driveway and I just can't be bothered to keep both of them all sparkly clean at the same time. I baby my favorite vehicle (Q7) and let it stay in the garage, while my second-favorite vehicle (Prius) gets to sit in the driveway under an oak tree that hosts a million of birds. We try to keep the garaged SUV washed and vacuumed, but it's our ski car and therefore spends most of the winter muddy both inside and out. We do wash and vacuum the Q7 and get the undercarriage washed as often as possible in the winter, but it isn't as often as we'd like. Once spring comes the SUV sits nice and pretty in the cool garage waiting for our next trip. The only babying the Q7 needs now is some leather conditioner around the gear shift. One of my favorite things about this Q7 is that it cleans up easily and sparkles like new after every wash -- even the washes we do at home.

I do feel sorry for the Prius, but it's a good-natured little car that never
Doesn't look exciting, but it is!
H2O at Home Mitt
Photo: H2O at Home
complains. I suppose I could buy a car cover, but as noted above, I can't be bothered. Tomorrow, my daughter and I plan to drive it onto our drought-stricken lawn and give it a good wash. We use a nifty hand mitt that gently scrubs the surface but doesn't require any soap. We also have some towels specifically for windows that work really well to keep them spot-free, and we have extra-absorbent towels to use to dry off the body quickly. (All of these items are from H2O at Home.) I let my kids vacuum and dust the inside of the Prius. I make it sound like a privilege so they get overly excited to get started. Occasionally I pay them, but they really should pay me.

Do Car Thieves Like Clean or Dirty Cars?
Dropcam Video Camera
Photo: Cnet
I hope car thieves like clean cars and therefore won't like my dirty grey Prius that sits in the driveway. It's always locked with the windows rolled up, and I imagine it just doesn't look very appealing with all that bird poop on the roof. My husband and I are careful to keep all valuables out of the car, but soon our son will be driving and I have a good idea of all the junk he's going to leave in whichever car he drives. It's going to drive me crazy. Hopefully he won't leave the keys in the car.

When I was a kid in rural Montana, I think everyone left their keys in their vehicles. And usually in the ignition. Times have changed, and leaving keys in the ignition just isn't a good plan anymore no matter where you live. (Like it ever was.) But we all had yard lights and dogs, and I don't remember anyone having their pickup stolen.

Other than locking our cars, what other ways can we thwart car thieves?

Lug Nut Protector
Photo: The Club
Naturally, I have some brilliant ideas:

  • Motion-sensor lights that light up your driveway or parking spot
  • Alarm systems (on vehicles and in garages)
  • Security cameras
  • Tire boots (be sure to protect your lug nuts)
  • The Club for steering wheels
  • Parking under a streetlamp
  • Install a gate at the end of your driveway to keep the riff-raff out or in (depends on your circumstances)
  • Take all of the valuables out of the vehicle
  • Plaster the windshield with fake parking tickets
  • Sell your car and buy a bike with panniers

My son has some of those fake parking tickets which he used liberally a few years ago when we had a party. Our friends walked out of our house and were shocked to find parking tickets on their cars that were parked in our driveway. Some of them didn't think it was that funny, so be sure to pick your pranks wisely.

The inspiration for this post came from Dropcam and a blogging campaign they are running. They're interested in hearing your tips on how to keep your vehicles safe and sound. You can also visit the new Home Security section on their site. And questions can go to  (I did not receive compensation for this post.)

Please tell us: How do you baby your car? How do you keep it safe? But more importantly, how do you teach your teenagers to keep their cars clean and safe? 

(c) Copyright 2010-2016. Erika JN Fish. Car Mama. All Rights Reserved.

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