“Whether you’re in the back seat or behind the wheel, your safety is essential.” – Uber
“Your passengers depend on you.” – Lyft
We’re going to take a look at a different type of EDC, your EveryDay Car. This is the car you’re driving and commuting in every day, whether it’s a Toyota Camry or a Rolls Royce. When you get into your vehicle to take kids to school, pick up passengers, or go to the store, it becomes your mobile command center. We’re going to cover several aspects of the vehicle in this article. Everything from maintenance, to driving etiquette and developing a vehicle emergency kit. When you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, think of yourself as the Transporter. It’s not only a cool movie but highlights some key points such as how he maintains the car, drives the car and treats his passengers. Everything is done professionally and with a purpose. That’s exactly what you need to be when behind the wheel of your everyday car.
It’s just another aspect of living a lifestyle of preparedness.
“You should keep your car in tiptop shape at all times as well. This is your emergency escape and response vehicle; if it’s not ready for an emergency, you aren’t.” – Pat McNamara (Sentinel)
To start we’re going to cover the vehicle itself and some basic maintenance areas
This is no particular order, just some guidelines I follow to keep my vehicle ready at all times. To start I never let the gas tank go below half a tank. I learned this first from my dad many years ago and I keep hearing it reiterated by many in the executive protection field as well as other industry professionals. Some choose to always keep the tank at 3/4, but for me, half is more practical. Without gas, you’re not going anywhere.
Next up is the oil. The general rule of thumb is to get the oil changed every 3000 miles or 3 months (whichever comes first). Your driving habits are going to dictate this. If you’re driving more than 100 miles a day I would stick to the rule of thumb, but if you’re just commuting around town to run errands a few times a week, then you can probably stretch that timeline out a bit, say every 4 to 6 months.
Tire pressure is also important to maintain. Most newer vehicles have tire pressure sensors and will alert you to any drops in pressure. Typically when you take your vehicle to get the oil changed, they will top of the tire pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Either way, it’s good to know your manufacturer’s recommendations and spot check those from time to time.
Next on the list are your lights. Make sure your headlights, high beams, brake lights and turn signals are all functional. These are all generally pretty easy to replace. I keep several on hand just in case, especially if I’m traveling.
I also like to keep my windshield washer fluid topped off. It’s not necessarily a maintenance must, but it sure makes things easier when driving for long periods of time, staring through a windshield pelted with bugs, bird crap and road grime.
The battery in your vehicle should be replaced about every 5 years or so just to be safe. I know they can go much longer than that, but it’s an industry guideline for many executive protection teams and close protection specialists.
Last but not least is the check engine light. If it comes on, it’s on for a reason. Go get it checked out and address any issues sooner than later.
Driving and passenger etiquette
This has more to do with chauffeuring than anything else. For a well-written article on the art of chauffeuring check out the article on Top Gear. It’s really easy to implement most of these into our everyday driving, even more so if you’re an Uber driver or Lyft driver.
General cleanliness is a must. Throw out any trash promptly, keep the interior vacuumed as needed and the windows wiped down with Windex or your cleaner of choice. I don’t use the car air fresheners, as those have a tendency to irritate people if they are sensitive to different scents.
If you use any cables to charge your portable electronic devices, be sure to stow those away before exiting the vehicle. This keeps the vehicle organized as well as gives the illusion to a passerby that there is nothing valuable inside to steal.
Keeping bottled water inside your vehicle is a great idea from both a preparedness standpoint as well as a passenger comfort standpoint. Make them available in case your passengers are thirsty.
When you’re driving passengers around, whether it’s family, friends or passengers, stay off your phone. You’re responsible for their safety while they are in your vehicle, so pay attention to the road in front of you and be a defensive driver. Obviously, if you’re an Uber or Lyft driver you have your app running for pickup and dropoff, but the Facebook messages and texts can wait until you’ve reached your destination and your passengers have exited your vehicle.
Last but not least is your appearance. You don’t need to wear a suit as some higher end chauffeurs do, but you do need to be neatly dressed and groomed. Being neatly dressed and groomed gives your passengers a sense that you’re confident in what you do, take pride in your work and have respect for others.
The vehicle emergency kit
Flat tires. It’s a fact of life. It’s better to be prepared than stuck on the side of the road or a parking lot waiting and depending on someone else to rescue you. I keep a small tire plug kit and can of fix-a-flat in my kit. The portable air compressor I carry plugs into my 12-volt outlet and allows me to inflate a low or flat tire pretty much anywhere. I do not want to be dependant on finding a gas station with air.
The portable jump pack I keep in my vehicle also gives me peace of mind when traveling. The jump pack allows me to jump either my vehicle or someone else’s without having to line the cars up next to each other and use jumper cables. You just need to make sure you charge the jump pack after using it so that you’re prepared for the next time. The one I use has been gaining popularity in the overlanding community due to its ease of use and robustness. That is the Uncharted Supply Zeus.
I also have a small duffel bag that I carry some vehicle maintenance tools in. Mainly in here, I keep my Zeus jump pack, duct tape, basic hand tools, hose clamps, tire plug kit, fix-a-flat, zip ties and my vehicle tow strap. This stuff allows me to make quick fixes on the move until I can get my vehicle into the garage.
For medical gear, I carry two trauma kits. One is located inside my center console and the other in the back of my jeep with the other gear. When you have a family in the car, make sure you have enough medical supplies to treat them ALL.
Whether you’re chauffeuring your family around or other passengers, you need to have your vehicle in top running order, presentable and have a vehicle emergency kit prepped and ready. Tailor the kit to your vehicle and skill level. If you’ve never patched a car tire, then having a tire repair kit may not work out so well when you’re stranded somewhere by yourself. Take the initiative now to practice changing your tire or patching a flat tire in a controlled environment. That will give you the needed confidence in a bad situation, especially if other people are in the vehicle.
*Featured photo courtesy of Pixabay