My Resolution: To Be A Better Car Owner In The New Year

In 2013, I'm not going to promise to eat better, or quit smoking, mainly because I don't smoke. Instead, I'm going to do what I should've done years ago and resolve to become a better car owner. It's time that I pay more attention to my cars and take care of them.

See, I've always loved cars, but you wouldn't know that from the way I've kept my cars. It goes beyond a simple wash, but a genuine attentiveness to the most important thing in your automotive world. Going out of your way not to curb your wheels doesn't mean anything if there are more flashing lights on the dash than an ugly light-up sweater. All of you could probably do more for the significant car in your life, too.

I am now the owner of two cars, a new Golf GTI and my old Saab 900, the one I debated getting rid of because everything was going wrong with it. I really do love that car and couldn't really think of ditching it even when I got the new car.

In fact, I wish I'd have taken better care of it in the 6 years I've driven it. But my bad car habits have already started creeping into the VW and after the first of the year, I'm going to change. I'm going to be a better car owner.

Here are some things I've been known to get carried away with:

Top photo: Flickr/nojuan

My Resolution: To Be A Better Car Owner In The New Year

Warning Lights Mean Things

This is coming from someone who plays the how-low-can-you-go game with the fuel warning light. The needle lives in the red, which is odd because I feel like I just spent 50 bucks on a tank of 91. I've driven around for days with the low fuel light on, the VW beeping in a Germanic way telling me to "Please refuel!" Who knows what the fuel pump was sucking on.

In the Saab, the airbag light has been on since 2010. The ABS light flickers occasionally, but never long enough to show my mechanic. Brakes seem to work, though. But in general, there used to be so many flickering lights on that my father got in it once and exclaimed, "Oh my God, what the hell are all these lights?!" This, from a man who used to drive a Miata that was attacked by an automatic gate.

My Resolution: To Be A Better Car Owner In The New Year

Eating And Drinking Are Out Of Control

Before I was a journalist, I was a student. Both occupations are inherently mean to cars. My Saab has lived a very hard life of poor college student and part-time newspaper reporter. I don't know from which year those Starbucks holiday cups came from.

Those bad habits have carried over into the VeeDub. I've only had it a month, but it's like I've kept every ATM receipt since then in the car. I left a banana peel in there for six hours and when I came back, the new car smell was replaced with the odor of warm fruit. Never, ever again.

My Resolution: To Be A Better Car Owner In The New Year

The floor of the Saab is so packed with half used water bottles that they cover up the bottle I need to add the power steering fluid. Every time I place a water bottle on the ground I instantly forget which one I was drinking out of and which one I was using to add water to the radiator when I remembered the "Coolant Low" message was flashing several days ago. Speaking of which ...

My Resolution: To Be A Better Car Owner In The New Year

Keeping Up With The Maintenance

It's never a good sign when every time you open the hood of your car you remember your battery being a different color. But beeping coolant warnings are a sign that there's already been way too much time since things have been checked. So is discovering that massive stain is on the garage floor. Checking important things like fluids is so easy, I don't know why it's not a regular habit for some people, or why others don't even know where their hood release latch is.

But this also extends to not letting simple car repair things go too long. I've let the wiper blades go for too long on the Saab, especially the one over the rear window that is borderline useless at this point. The fact I don't live in an area where wipers are destroyed by ice and freezing temperatures still means you have to replace them consistently.

What are your guys' weaknesses when it comes to maintaining your cars and are you resolving to be a better car owner in 2013? Because, seriously, when has anyone made good on a New Years resolution to exercise?