Caring for your car can be simple and cheap. If you put in a little effort up front, you don’t have to spend money on expensive car washes, detailing or cleaning services, or even simple maintenance issues.
Compiling a DIY car care kit to keep on hand can be a big help, and it only takes a few hours to assemble. It's also a fun, out-of-the-ordinary gift for graduations, sweet sixteens, and weddings, and can be customized according to anyone's car needs.
Car Care Container
Decide how big you’d like your car care kit to be, then purchase a container accordingly. If you can, find one that's easy to move and made of durable plastic.
If you'll be storing this kit in your car, think about the weather where you live—if your climate is hot, pick a light color. Extreme temperatures could potentially warp a dark plastic container and its contents.
Household Cleaning Items - Car cleaning solutions and microfiber rags will help you keep your car looking good. A basic toothpaste can be used to shine your headlights, a sponge brush can dust off your AC vents, and a thin layer of olive oil can help polish up your dashboard.
Tire Pressure Gauge - Over or under-filling your tires can be dangerous.
Paint Supplies - It's good to have some supplies on hand to fill in scratches and chips.
Baking Soda - This can cure a multitude of car ills. To freshen interior odor, sprinkle some on your car seats and let it sit for fifteen minutes, then vacuum it up. Combine baking soda and water to clean interior hard surfaces, or remove bird droppings and tree sap from the exterior.
Plan for Emergencies
Washer Fluid - This doesn't seem important until it runs out, but a windshield obscured by dust or grime can be a hazard.
Jumper Cables - You might get lucky and find someone who has these if you need a battery assist, but you're much more likely to find help if you have the chords yourself.
Road Flares or Reflective Warning Sign - If things go really sideways and your car brakes down in a way that makes it hard to move off the road, especially at night, you might need a way to direct traffic to avoid endangering yourself or others.
Flashlight - Performing any kind of repair at night is going to be much harder (and scarier) with no light.
Tire Changing Kit - This should include a jack lift and a lug wrench. Wedges for wheels are an optional addition.
First Aid Kit - These come in all sizes, or you can assemble one yourself. At a minimum, it should include painkillers, medication for indigestion, antiseptic ointment, wipes, and bandages.
Blanket - In case you get stranded in the cold!
Personal Car Extras
Sunscreen - Especially when driving long distances, it's easy to forget about sun and get a nasty burn.
Umbrella - If your car kit stays at home, tuck an umbrella somewhere in your car.
Chapstick - Car AC can dry out your lips, so stay prepared.
Maintenance Checklist - Make and print a car maintenance checklist to keep in your kit, so you can always stay on top of tire rotations and oil changes. Bonus points if you laminate the sheet and use a dry erase marker to note when the tasks have been completed.
Air Fresheners - You can even make these yourself.
Roadside Assistance - If you get stuck somewhere with no access to the internet, it might be helpful to have contact information on hand for towing companies or AAA.