In the past few weeks, our social media news feeds have been inundated by posts of friends losing loved ones due to COVID-19. Every scroll down, would reveal yet another photo of a candle or a black circle taking over the space formerly occupied by the happy face of a friend or acquaintance. We would then read successive replies of condolence and sympathy. The reality is, COVID-19 is hitting closer to home each passing day.
As a car guy, I have pretty much filtered my news feed to show posts involving motoring news and features coming from fellow car lovers. There was a time when spending a few hours on Facebook each day was part of my job. To some of you, it probably still is. And seeing and reading updates about cars has seen me occasionally lose track of time.
But since the quarantine started a year ago, more and more content and news have veered away from the triviality of cars, modifications, road trips, motorsports and motoring news. Instead, the predominance of depression and despair, hopelessness and anguish, anxiety and pain has become too much to bear. The constant bombardment of the saddest of stories will eventually take its toll on our mental health.
Sad and necessary as it is to empathize with friends on their losses, we should remember that we still have the power to control what we see and read on social media. Moreso, we still have the choice to do what needs to be done to ensure our mental health in the same way we have control over our health and safety as we avoid COVID-19 infection.
So what does a car guy have to do to keep on the level? How do we regain a positive perspective despite the negativity that torments us each day? And how do we rekindle our passion for cars even though we are being prevented from enjoying them to the hilt by the lockdown?
Here are some tips for car lovers on how to escape the harshness of the new normal.
Give your car a thorough detailing
When was the last time you saw your car literally shined? Or the last time you saw clearly through your car’s windshield during a heavy downpour? How about the time you saw your car’s interiors spotless and dust free? Spending a few hours cleaning and sprucing up your car is a bonding moment which you will not only cherish, but will also serve you well when you head back to the streets.
Pull out and wash the car’s carpet. Use cotton buds to clean those air-con vents and sanitizing wipes to clean the steering wheel, shift knob, door handles and air-con knobs. To top it off, pop open an antibacterial canister and let it do its magic with the help of the air conditioning system. All these will lead to a fresher cabin and your peace of mind.
DIY is the key – With lots of time in our hands while quarantined at home, this might be the right time to learn a new skill. YouTube is full of How-To videos which can teach you how to work on your car’s various components. You can learn how to do an oil change, how to drain and top up fluids, how to check the condition of your car’s tires, or even how to rotate those wheels. Every DIY activity is a step to saving some pesos over the course of car ownership.
Charge your battery – Contrary to popular belief, the long idle time your car might be experiencing now is actually taking its toll on its various components. One item almost always affected is the battery.
While starting the car every so often adds some charge to the car battery, having a dedicated trickle charger or battery tender is even better. A trickle charger can even recondition the battery ensuring it operates in its optimum condition while preserving its charge holding capacity in the long run. This also means a longer service life for your car’s battery.
Go for a new look
Itching to tinker with your car? There are a lot of ways you can do this. The easiest and the one with the most dramatic impact would be changing or upsizing your car’s wheels. They are like your car’s shoes. Having the ideal set on can transform your car and give it some pizazz to stand out among the crowd.
Other simple upgrade items include replacing halogen headlamps with HID or LED bulbs, getting a new shade of tint, or maybe adding a discrete body kit or trunk lip. Just make sure the shop you go to adheres to minimum health protocols while it is working on your car.
Upgrade the sound system
With the ongoing pandemic, and traffic that seems to have no immediate solution, you will spend more time in your car than you really have to. That is why investing in an entertainment system upgrade makes sense.
A new 2-DIN touchscreen head unit opens up your media experience from the basic AM/FM free radio to Spotify, DVDs and MPEGs. And if budget is tight, a simple powered compact subwoofer under the passenger seat can do wonders in transforming your listening experience inside the car.
Inspect your car from top to bottom
With the time you now have in your hands because of the quarantine, spending a couple of hours to peruse every detail of your car might just surprise you. Take note of every nick, fault, or potential problem point when you go over your car. This will help you plan out and prioritize what needs to be fixed first once service centers or auto shops are back to normal operation.
Leaks, worn brake pads, frayed wires, holes in the exhaust system, rust, all these are telltale signs of trouble in the long run.
Post photos of your build.
In today’s social media crazy world, sharing stories is one way to spread good will. Create an Instagram account for your car, post and hashtag away. You’ll be surprised how far your photos can reach. You may even end up inspiring others to work on their rides too.
Change your car’s muffler
Okay this is so juvenile, but admit it, when you used to do this, those were the fun times. Nowadays, you can replace the muffler chamber from the last flange. That means no cutting and welding your stock bits so you can bring them back when the droning sound has done its job of entertaining you.
Combine your passions
If you are fortunate enough to harbor a few hobbies to tie you down, why not make full use of them to highlight your passion for cars? Take photos of your ride. Document your build. Install a bike rack and take your two-wheels for a spin outside the city. There’s more than one way to invigorate your life and take your mind away from the sadness on the Internet.
Admit it, the MECQ now isn’t as stringent as it once was. You can even drive out to NLEX or SLEX or even the new Skyway Stage 3 for a quick decarbonizing run. But that does not mean you can just go out without a purpose.
When you do head out though, stay in your car as much as you can. No need to mingle with others or hang out with car clubs just yet. And just remember to be home before the curfew sets in.
Bonus tip. This applies if finances are not a problem. The ultimate tip guaranteed to rekindle that passion you have for cars is buying a new one! With many on-going promotions nowadays, it is easy to pick a car to pour your hours of your attention into. It does not have to be an expensive model, a small hatch or a subcompact crossover can be a good start. Maybe even a preowned ride that you’ve been eyeing for a while. Let reason and your budget be your guide and don’t forget to save some for a rainy day.
Even for a short while, let us remember to cherish and celebrate the good old days when we could spend our free time with our rides. Let us relive those precious moments and bond with our cars again. Because at the end of the day, life moves on. It has to.
Motoring and motorsports are two of Mikko’s greatest passions. Combining more than twenty years of professional automotive photography and videography experience with years of touring car racing competition, and a deep understanding of the car industry, from both the manufacturers’ and consumers’ points of view, have given him a unique and insightful perspective in the motoring beat.