With an average commute time of 25 minutes, one way, in the US, it’s clear many of us spend a lot of time in our cars. For big cities like LA, you might be spending an hour or more in your car during your round-trip commute – and forget it if there’s a crash on the highway!
As much as many of us would like to get rid of our cars and walk or bike to work, it’s not a possibility for everyone. In Phoenix, living close to work and in a safe neighborhood is often very expensive, and affordable homes are usually found in the outlying areas. Affordable and safe housing is not something you typically associate with downtowns in many cities.
While some cities are lucky enough to have reliable public transit, the fact is that many of us will continue to use our cars for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s due to lack of reliable public transit, inflexible job schedules, or for those who like to drive their own cars in peace, driving is something many of us will continue to do.
With all that time spent in your car, it’s important to enjoy your time in it. After all, your car gets you from here to there, but you want to enjoy your trip a little, right? If you’re looking for practical yet nice touches for your car, consider splurging on these 5 things.
AAA or Another Reputable Car Club
AAA is one membership you might want to splurge on as a driver. Overall, the best thing AAA buys you is peace of mind, but it’s worth even more in an emergency. If you’ve ever had a battery die in the middle of nowhere (or at night!), needed a tow, locked yourself out of your car, or ran out of gas far from a gas station, AAA can help you out.
Sure, you could always call your family to jump start your car or bring you gas, but not everyone has that luxury of having family close by. If your family members work or live in another state, you could be out of luck at a really inconvenient time. AAA provides roadside service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and costs less than $100 a year, depending on which membership you choose. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind!
Whether you buy Sirius satellite radio or hook up Spotify to your speakers, it pays (literally) to subscribe to a good music/radio service, especially if you have a longer commute. While you can listen to the same annoying radio ads and top 20 repeats on your local radio, why torture yourself with the same songs day in and day out?
A good subscription service can provide hours of entertainment, and not just during your commute. Shuttling around grandparents? Play some oldies! Taking around some kids? You have the Disney channel for that. Going out with friends? The comedy channel is usually inappropriate and hilarious, which is perfect for (most) friends.
I’ve never had a tire blow out, but that could also be because I shell out for more expensive tires. While expensive ($400+) tires hurt when you buy them, they’re worth it in the long run. Good tires can improve car safety, handling, and more, and may also save you money long term. After all, even cheap tires cost money, especially if you end up replacing them more frequently.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to choose the right tires, unless you have a trusted friend or family member’s recommendation. Short of that, check out the Tire Ratings from SaferCar.gov. While it can be a hassle to find the right ones, it’s worth it!
Regular Car Washes/Detailing
While you don’t need to go all out and get your car detailed regularly, it’s worth it to keep your car looking spiffy. Not only does it make your car look nicer, but it also can be good for your wallet. By keeping your car clean, you’ll reduce build up, keep your paint looking fresher, and keep up your car’s resale value. Even if you don’t plan on selling it, you want to keep your car in shape so you don’t have to pay for expensive maintenance down the road!
Okay, this isn’t technically “for your car”, although neither was the radio, but it’s really important. Many people completely overlook keeping some form of emergency kit in their car, and they don’t realize what a mistake that is until they need it.
Your emergency kit can be as small or large as you want – for some people, it’s jumper cables and a spare tire. For others, it’s those items plus tools, flares, blankets, food and water.
What you store in your car’s emergency kit really depends on your climate: do you live in a snowy climate? Then blankets and hand warmers are probably good ideas. Are you like me and live in the desert? You might want blankets, but you will absolutely want water. You don’t have to make your emergency kit unwieldy, but make sure to include things you might need if you’re broken down on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, for a few hours.
Track All Your Accounts With Personal CapitalPersonal Capital lets you see all of your accounts in one convenient place. Sign up now for free.
For drivers out there, what were your must-haves for your car or yourself? Is there anything I overlooked that you think drivers should splurge on for their car?