The older I get, the more I realize that maintaining a consistent, lively, and meaningful relationship is actually quite difficult. Especially one that keeps you on your toes and consistently entertained. Unfortunately, it's not one of my strong suits, and there's been some instances lately where my eyes have wandered and distracted me...I've even had a few instances of infidelity in past relationships. It's not something I'm proud of, and I always feel bad, but sometimes there's nothing like trading your ride in for a newer faster model—or even swapping keys with someone else for a day. I'm told it's completely normal to want something different, and that I shouldn't be ready to settle down quite yet, but it's a battle of emotion...I really do love my Land Rover, as I did the vehicles in my past.
Yes, the entire time I've been talking about vehicles and specifically the battle I'm having with keeping my Land Rover, a real relationship, but just not a human one. Think about it...the bond you share with your vehicle, as an automotive enthusiast, is realistically one of the most important, and expensive relationships you can have. Since I've owned my first car, I've never been able to hang onto one longer than a year, at a point, usually around five to six months, the thrill of ownership somehow vanishes: I become bored and annoyed with the vehicle and it's on craigslist the next day. Unfortunately for Ralph (my Land Rover) he's dangerously close to being 86'd, it's nothing he's done wrong, it's just that the thrill is gone. I've gotten some great advice on how to make things last, and I'm sharing the top five here.
1.) Do you pay attention to your cars personality?
Nearly every vehicle produced in human history has a unique personality to it. Often times I've found that the best personalities come from the most flawed vehicles (read: Land Rover.) The more character a vehicle has, the more likely you'll keep it around and treat it better. Previously, I thought this was nearly impossible with all Toyota products, as they're usually too well-made, but I've learned one can even learn to love a Toyota. In my case it was Expeditions 7's camera truck, and it's affectionate name "The Sherpa." Embrace the flaws and you'll learn to embrace the vehicle, however, sometimes too many flaws means just that...too many flaws
2.) When is the last time you took your car to the spa?
Get used to it, this entire article is a giant pun towards relationships, but seriously, how often do you take the time to clean your vehicle? I mean really, really clean it, not spray it off with a hose and call it a date. Start taking pride in your vehicles cleanliness, and you'll be amazed how much more attached you'll become. Personal experience tells me there's nothing like a nice clay-bar to remove the stains of yesteryear, followed by a few nice coats of wax. Be sure to make sure your car is greased up too, when they get old it's often the joints that hurt the most—u-joints, tie-rod ends, and ball joints all need regular service to perform at their peak. Don't forget the little things, that sticky mess at the bottom of your cupholder isn't making anyone happy.
3.) Have you even taken your vehicle out on a hot date lately?
Vehicles like to be used, there's nothing they enjoy more than being taken out on a difficult trail or twisty road. Often times, if a vehicle isn't used to it's potential, and used frequently, they get a bit rusty when you ask them to have some fun. The Land Rover Discovery is a great example of this, since most models aren't used off-road frequently, the linkage to engage the low range and differential-lock often seizes, becoming useless. Pushing your vehicle to the limit is also a great way to rekindle why you've purchased that model in the first place, a BMW M3 might as well be a regular 3-series if you don't take advantage of the added performance every once and a while.
4.) Have you swapped the fluids?
Dr. Frasier Crane wouldn't agree with me, but I still think there's something psychological that happens when you change the fluids on your vehicle—especially to something of a higher grade, it's like you're cleansing the insides of the vehicle to make it run better. Synthetic fluids are a great choice here, they'll often reduce noise, wear, and increase fuel economy, making both parties happier. Be sure to remember the little bits, because there's more bits that reqiure oil than your engine alone. Do the differentials, transfer case, swivel balls, power steering, and don't forget the brakes and cooling system.
5.) You keep buying yourself nice things, what about your car?
Stop being so selfish and buying yourself nice things, you've forgotten about your car. Don't think for a minute that the small things don't matter, remember that door panel switch that isn't working? Or what about that faded interior panel, you'll appreciate it as much as your car does when you pay attention to the little things. If you're really feeling desperate you can go to the human equivalent of diamonds, for that, I like to defer my paycheck to companies specialising in vehicle modification. Nothing says I love you to a significant other than spending a huge amount of money on them in order to save a dying relationship. My personal suggestion: Trucks love bumpers and suspension lifts, for Cars, there's nothing like a nice exhaust system or a nice set of wheels. Ever wonder why you see a lot of new accessories on vehicles that are new on the car market?
So, if you've gone through Matthew's 5 Step Program and your relationship isn't improved, you're likely in the same exact spot I am—at least your vehicle is in better (and more valuble) shape now. Just make sure there's no regrets because once it's gone, it's likely gone forever.