The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Business Vehicle

by CherrellT on August 19, 2011

For a busy professional using your own vehicle for work, it’s all too easy to forget about the suggested maintenance schedule. Unfortunately, this only increases your chances of having the car break down—causing additional time wasted—or even worse, getting into an accident. The last thing that you want to do is spend excessive time on car maintenance and upkeep, or be sued by a client passenger because your vehicle wasn’t correctly maintained.  A few simple steps can ensure your vehicle’s reliability and the utmost in accidents due to faulty mechanics.

Regular Checkups

The first step is, of course, to routinely have the oil changed and the vehicle serviced. For the busy person, a simple calendar reminder can ensure that the car gets taken in to the mechanic regularly. If there is a mechanic or dealership that regularly services the car, they will have a detailed record of all previous maintenance.  Ask them to call you and set up appointments a few weeks ahead of each maintenance date; emails and postcards might easily be ignored when you are balancing clients, family and social events.

Analyze This!

Of course there is always a manufacturer’s manual, which includes a maintenance section where you can log oil changes, etc. Only the most detail-conscious person will ever get around to entering this information, either in the manual or anyplace else for that matter. For the technologically inclined smart phone user, there are a variety of user-friendly tracking programs that can analyze gas mileage, performance and keep track of maintenance records and expenses.

Think Hygiene

When you’re constantly on the go, especially carrying clients in the car, you should dedicate specific intervals to have your vehicle washed and waxed, or even detailed.  A car does not always have to be in pristine showroom condition, but it’s good to keep it free of litter and personal items.  It’s a bit aggravating for a client to begin to enter the car, only to have you quickly sweeping away items off the floor or strewn across the seats.

If the car has leather seats, special care needs to be taken. Over time, these may dry out and crack; if this happens, the only options would be to have them reupholstered or get seat covers. There are leather-cleaning products that easily wipe off the grime and protect the surface.  Remember your car is a reflection of you—and just like you, it needs to be freshly cleaned, smell good and put it’s best foot forward.

Preventative Measures

When you use your own (or your company’s) vehicle to transport clients, having adequate and appropriate insurance coverage is not negotiable.  Make sure the registration and smog checks are up to date, and always go for the maximum coverage—this is one area you don’t want to practice your budgeting skills.  Nobody ever expects to have an accident but statistics are against you—even if you’re the most excellent of drivers, chances are the other guy is going to “get you” at some point or another.

Keep your gas tank at least half full.  Bypass the cheapest grade of fuel and opt for the middle or highest octane—you’ll get better road performance and your car will love you for it.  To conserve on fuel and wear-and-tear, try using routes with fewer stop lights and traffic, even if it means driving a few more miles – you’ll arrive less stressed out and possibly even sooner.

Feel the Fear

When your client is trying to pull you into a detailed or adamant discussion, ask them politely what kind of music they prefer and turn the radio on to a comfortable level.  If they don’t take the hint, mention that you really do find it hard to focus on the road while discussing important issues and suggest they wait until you stop for lunch, or grab a coffee before hitting your destination.  Ever get those feelings that suddenly you have no idea how you got where you are?  We all do.  This means you have been driving on autopilot—it’s a scary feeling to know that someone could have bolted out of nowhere and plowed you into oblivion.

The bottom line is, as an executive you have much on your mind and on your schedule.  Don’t neglect your car, and don’t allow others to cause distractions that could put your life or your business at risk.

Jason Matthews is an insurance consultant and recommends using an online auto insurance comparison for the best current rates. Check it out, whether you’re in San Diego or planning a move across country and interested in auto insurance Virginia quotes.

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