Now that the New Year is officially under way, I have decided to become a better driver and car owner.
Without further ado, my 2013 Automotive New Years Resolutions:
1. I will learn how to use my car's digital entertainment system
In theory, the digital screen in my new sports car can guide me to distant cities, play DVDs and tune in satellite radio stations. In reality, it will do none of these things, since I got to page 56 of the 368-page users manual and gave up. Although the manual reminds me of the one that came with the original Microsoft Windows operating system back in the 1980s, this shouldn't be an obstacle to an expert like myself. And so, I hereby resolve to smash through this digital roadblock and master my system in 2013 by reading and comprehending the entire manual. Failing this, there's always 2014. And should 2014 fall through, I may be trading the car anyway.
2. I will install snow tires before it snows
Like any responsible, well-prepared car owner, I have winter tires mounted on a second set of wheels, ready to be bolted on at a moment's notice as winter looms. Unfortunately, these wheels are in our garage, buried somewhere behind a wall of junk. This is nothing that a week of labour and a yard sale couldn't cure, but it is now January, 2013, and the work party and yard sale I originally scheduled for April of 2008 has yet to take place. As a result, my snow tires remain as comprehensively lost as the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa. But things will be totally different in 2013! By next fall, my snow wheels will stand in readiness, mounted with a fresh set of Pirelli Winter Carving tires and unobstructed by the barbecue, furniture from my son's last university apartment, or piles of wood for the chair I didn't get around to building. (At least this is my fervent hope.)
3. I will put in rubber floor mats before March
As we all know, your car's floor must be shielded from melting snow and corrosive salt. So, of course, I have a full set of fitted rubber mats. Unfortunately, they are in our garage, right next to the snow tires, behind that wall of debris I just mentioned. But this will change in 2013 (probably).
4. I will make the repairs I keep putting off
There is a loose air intake grille in the nose of my sports car. Fixing it means removing the front bumper, headlights, fender liners and a collection of hoses and wires. Once I have the front end on the workbench, I have to epoxy the loose grille's fasteners back into place, reassemble everything and realign the headlights. For a man of skill and resolve, this job would take six to eight hours. (I am allowing myself a week or so.)
5. I will reassemble the family car roadside survival kit
The trunk of our old Accord is a black hole where objects mysteriously disappear, drifting off to some lost automotive galaxy that is filled with reflective triangles, ice scrapers, flashlights, portable shovels and bags of salt. That will change in 2013! I will put in a fresh emergency kit and check it on a monthly basis. I may also put in a jack and lug wrench, since they have also disappeared.
6. I will not judge the oil by its colour
Although I am religious about logging the mileage on my sports car so I can change the oil on a consistent schedule, I will admit that things have slipped a bit with the family ride. The state of the Accord's oil is usually judged by how it looks on the dipstick. I promise to watch the odometer and change the oil and filter every 5,000 kilometres, instead of waiting until it turns black.
7. I will not buy useless automotive accessories
Over the past decade, I have purchased at least half a dozen brackets that were supposed to hold my cellphone, and an equal number of automotive trash cans. The cellphone holders were all outperformed by my coat pocket, and none of the trash cans worked as well as a Loblaws bag that could be stowed under the seat until it was needed. And I will admit that the dash-mounted fan I bought for our non-air-conditioned Civic was useless. So were the CD holders that strapped on to the sun visors. In 2013, my automotive accessories budget will be zero, and I promise not to enter the Canadian Tire department that has all those air fresheners, memory foam neck pillows, aftermarket cup holders, aerodynamic wiper blades, slide-out coin sorters and beer coolers that plug into the cigarette lighter. (And should I inadvertently enter this department, I promise not to buy. And should I subsequently make an unintended purchase, I promise that it will be for $25 or less.)
8. I will wash and vacuum the family car at least once a week
Back in the day, every car I owned was cleaned on a schedule that would gladden the heart of Mussolini himself. Things have slipped a bit. Although my sports car is immaculate, I will admit that the family Honda is a rolling stable. (And not the cleanest of stables, either – a pigpen, maybe?) So, in 2013, I will clean the Accord every seven days. I plan to commence this rigorous cleaning schedule in May. (Or September at the latest.)
9. I will not succumb to road rage
I'm pretty laid back behind the wheel, but a couple of drivers still manage to push my buttons each year. In 2013, I resolve not to respond to even the most egregious driving sins I may encounter. After all: To err is human, to forgive divine. You may consider my horn disconnected.
10. I will clean up my garage for the final time
I have reorganized and cleaned my garage many times, yet it repeatedly returns to what seems to be a natural state of chaos. For 2013, I have a plan: I will hire Hercules, who warmed up on the Augean Stables. (Good luck with that pile of lawn furniture, Herc, and if you see the snow tires, let me know.)
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Twitter: Peter Cheney@cheneydrive
Globe and Mail Road Rush archive: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/car-life/cheney/