It’s probably fair to say you wouldn’t put on dirty clothes and go out on a first date without showering — you have to do some self-maintenance first. Likewise, there’s a bit of maintenance you should do on your car if you’re going to be chauffeuring your date around all night. First impressions are important, from your hair to your shoes to your brake pads.
Does It Smell Weird in Here?
The receptors in your nose quickly become adjusted to smells to the point where you’re not even aware of them anymore. Eating in your car can leave the lingering smell of stale food, and tracking muck into your interior when you step in and out can leave behind any number of strange odors. The worst part is, you’re probably not even conscious of any bad smells since you spend so much time in your car.
Before you pick up your date, give your car’s interior a deep clean. Vacuum the floor, seats, and every crevice you can reach to remove all the grime that may be stinking up the place. While you’re at it, wipe down your dashboard. You’ll be surprised how much dust collects in your car from driving with the windows down; you may not notice it, but your date will.
Once everything is clean and tidy, spritz some air freshener around to cover up any lingering smells. Don’t overdo though — too much air freshener is like wearing too much cologne.
That Noise Is Exhausting
Has your car’s exhaust seemed a little bit loud or rattly lately? A lot of cars develop exhaust leaks from faulty gaskets or damaged exhaust pipes. You may have gotten used to the noise, but your date is going to think your car sounds obnoxious and unreliable. More importantly, exhaust leaks can let dangerous carbon monoxide seep into your interior, so you should never let exhaust leaks go regardless of your dating status.
Get under your car and examine the exhaust piping to find out where the leak is coming from. Look for holes caused by rust or road debris. If the damage isn’t too extensive, a reputable auto repair shop may be able to weld a patch into the piping. Otherwise, the entire exhaust section needs to be replaced.
If you don’t find any damage, start your engine and listen closely to all the exhaust flanges where two sections of piping are connected. A faulty gasket will make the flange sound louder than the others, or it will make hissing noises from the escaping gas. Replace any faulty gaskets you find.
Nails on a Chalkboard
Have your brakes been squeaking when you come to a stop? Brake pads have metal frames behind the rubber brake shoe, and when that metal rubs against your brake rotor it creates a high-pitch squeal. That noise may not bother you, but for some people it’s like hearing nails on a chalkboard. You don’t want to make your date cringe at every stop light, so replace your worn-out brake pads before hitting the town. If your pads are worn down to the metal, that can also generate a lot of excess heat and damage your rotors. So while you’re at it, inspect the rotors and calipers for signs of damage. Brake systems are highly complex, so take your car to a reputable auto repair service center if you’re not mechanically-inclined.
Make It Shine
If your car’s exterior has any dents, dings, or collision damage, consider having it repaired by a reputable auto body shop before your big date. Even if the damage is only cosmetic, it’ll make your car look look trashy and it might give the impression that you’re an unsafe driver. You should also give your car a thorough wash and wax on date night. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive — a freshly washed and waxed paint job gives the first impression that you’re cleanly and thoughtful. It’s like showering and putting on a fresh pair of clothes for your car.
Even if you can’t afford a luxury sports car, your car can still make a great first impression on your date if you put in a bit of maintenance. Remember, how you take care of your car generally reflects on how you take care of your home as well as yourself.