A gentle reminder to look after your car

Repeat after me:  My car is not a dumping ground.  My car is not a travelling rubbish bin.  My car is not the spare room. My car is not an op shop. My car is a valuable and useful tool that I love and organise from time to time!


  • 15 minutes +
  • Your car and all the stuff you’ve dumped in it
  • A rubbish bin.
  1. Start by removing all the obvious rubbish and recycling.
  2. Put the street directory in the glove box or close at hand to the driver.
  3. Make a note of anything useful you’re running low on (fuel, fresh CDs, shopping bags, tissues, pen and paper) and replenish at the next opportunity.
  4. Resolve to fix anything that needs attention.  Don’t spend years driving around with a broken driver’s side door lock or busted radio because you “haven’t gotten around to it”.  Your car is a tool. Tools should work, should be well maintained and easy to use (enjoyed even).  Remember, that little bit of rust, or that slight bit of smoke from the exhaust is only going to get worse (and cost you more money).  Get onto it straight away.
  5. Just because you have storage compartments doesn’t mean you have to fill them.  Don’t use your car as a spare bedroom where stuff lingers just because it doesn’t live anywhere else.


  • Items that can be a lifesaver and are worth the space they take up: a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a blanket, maps, bottled water (even if it’s just suburban driving).
  • Make it a priority to check your spare tyre and check that the necessary tools are there for changing it.  If you have never changed your tyre before, ask someone who knows to give you a short lesson, or read the manual.  Ask roadside assistance to show you next time they change it.  Changing the tyre yourself is a simple job once you know how.  If you’re never done it before, it only requires minimal skill and a little practice.  Many modern cars even have a visual marker on where to put the jack, so you can’t really go wrong.
  • Another organised item is moist towelettes for mucky hands for when you have finished changing your tyre or need a quick hand clean, a picnic rug or blanket, and of course, the ever useful shopping bags.  I also keep spare disposable cutlery (I am always feeding my face on the go), and a coin purse full of change for the parking meter.
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent can all be great summer things to stash in the boot if room allows.  Be warned that cosmetics don’t like heat and products will deteriorate rapidly.  I discovered this when spending the day at what felt like the most fly blown spot in Australia.  The prehistoric insect repellent I had in the glove box had turned to cottage cheese. Traps for young players.
  • When you turn on the engine, fill out your Motor Vehicle logbook while the engine warms (very good for your engine, very efficient way to run your car).  Do it every time and you will rarely forget – it very quickly becomes habit.  It takes less than a minute.
  • If your job takes you on the road, make sure you have spare business cards, and any other sensible back up items in a clear plastic sleeve or manila folder in the boot.
  • Use the seats for passengers and the boot for storage.
  • Clean your car now and then.  It feels so nice and you can see out the windows better.

This is an excerpt from my bestselling book, SORTED! the ultimate guide to organising your life – once and for all. Featuring  42 “recipies” to organise your office, home and life, it features over 250 tips.  You can a signed copy here.

Big thanks to my friend X, for allowing me to photograph her sweet mess 🙂


9 responses to “A gentle reminder to look after your car

  1. I’d like to add a notebook and pencil to that list. I keep a self propelling pencil instead of a pen since they won’t dry up and stay sharp. Use this is for exchange details with the other driver if you ever have a bingle or if you just need to note something down.

    I also keep both an umbrella – in case it starts to rain and I’ve forgotten mine, and a rain coat – in case I do need to change a tyre or do something in the case of a breakdown in the rain (and yes that has happened to me).

  2. My cousin is a long distance truck driver, and he used to keep his truck an absolute tip. He only drinks coffee, hot or cartons of iced coffee.

    He learnt to clean out his old cartons when he picked up the wrong carton and got a mouthful of sour milk!!!

    Lesson learnt!

  3. Hmmm, big coincidence – my driver’s side car door just broke (on Wednesday, when I was at the doctor’s) & I can’t open it. Just as well my back is behaving at the moment. I’ve yet to do anything about it…though I have a good reason. An unwelcome visitor accompanied me back from the doctor – a nasty dose of flu.

    I like the concept of making a kit to suit – I’ve needed cutlery & had to make do by using a defunct credit card – washed, I might add, with the water I always take with me. Towels or a blanket & box would also be useful in my area for wildlife rescue

  4. I partially panic-cleaned the car yesterday because my husband was taking his Dad in our car to pick up a TV from an aunty. But then they decided Dad’s car was better! I have two shopping bags full of toys, jackets, shoes, books, and all the other “good” stuff that the kids leave in there!

  5. I do keep my car spotless inside and out (weather permitting) however never kept much in it for emergencies. I had a flat tyre one night a couple of months back and fortunately had a towel and a bottle of water in the car. I was all dressed up, including stilettos, in a dark street in the city on my own and it started drizzling. I was able to kneel on the towel to change the tyre, then dry off with it and use water to clean my hands and quench my thirst afterwards (hard work changing a tyre!!). Hate to think what mess I’d be in if I’d had nothing at all!! 🙂

  6. I’m a terrible hoarder (not quite Hoarders worthy, but not far off it) but a car is like the kitchen sink to me. You don’t fill it with crap! It drives me NUTS when people put stuff in the sink, or more precisely, MY sink. I once started a fire in my kitchen that I was able to put out simply by putting it in my clean, uncluttered sink. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t washed up for a week, the sink was free and clear to put out the fire. Had the sink been full of stuff that would never have happened.

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