5 New Year’s resolutions for gearheads

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Go Drive Sunnie Schwartz

Making a list of New Year’s resolutions is a tradition that can be traced back to pre-Roman times. The core component is pledging to ourselves or some higher power that we will be better in the coming 12 months. The old fall-backs are losing weight, quitting a bad habit, and saving more money. Year after year, these same determinations can get pretty tired, and often we get too optimistic and set ourselves up for failure in the first few weeks. Luckily for you gearheads, we brainstormed five great resolutions you can use to kickstart a new decade.

In the interest of helping you have the best automotive year you can, these suggestions are designed to break from the common “get X running again,” or “buy that expensive thing or trip.” Take your own spin on them.

Do a road trip 

Davin Reckow behind the wheel of the Hagerty's Swap to Street Model T
Davin Reckow behind the wheel of the Hagerty's Swap to Street Model T Yoav Gilad

There is nothing more quintessentially car enthusiast than starting the engine and pointing the headlights towards a new destination. Near or far, road trips are wonderful escapes that can open our eyes to the world around us—and possibly the weak points of our cars. Take a bit of time to prepare properly and then go bask in the sun streaming through the windows as you pilot your vintage ride somewhere new.

Document your history with your car 

restoration documentations
Kyle Smith

The hardest reality in life is that we do not live forever, and many of us have spent decades with just one car. We know its history inside and out. Resolve to write all that down this year. Gather any photos of cars past and put them all in one place. Even if you haven’t had a lifetime with one car, documenting the history and stories of your ride will paint a mural for its next owner—or ensure your family understands that the collection of bolts and sheet metal is more than scrap. 

Enter your project in a show (or take it to a cars and coffee) 

Hagerty Employee Cars
Hagerty Employee Cars (photo by Matt Lewis)

A lot of folks make a big deal of telling everyone they know that their project will be done this year. We all get a good kick three and four years later over a cup of coffee as they regale us with the latest parts purchase or roadblock preventing the car from leaving the garage.

If you’re frustrated with a never-ending project, dial back this resolution. Get the car to drive and take it to a local show; trailer it if you have to. Show off your work so far, and you never know who you will meet and the conversations you will have—no matter what stage of completion your project is (or isn’t) in. Having done this one personally, taking even a half-finished project to a show recharges a set of batteries you didn’t know you had. You’ll likely tackle that project with renewed energy. Some of the show attendees might have great advice or parts you need.

Teach someone to drive your car 

Go Drive

Telling someone about the joy of driving rarely endears them to classic cars. The experience of driving, though, can create a true believer in the hobby we all love so much. Taking the time to teach someone how to drive a manual transmission, understand a carbureted engine, or cope without power steering, is just plain fun. Find an open area with low traffic and take the time to talk to your student driver through the process.

We all had to learn at some point. Being high and mighty about your car is not going to help keep the hobby alive. Cars are durable, and with some exceptions, they can be repaired from just about any damage with no issues. Of course, take the necessary precautions to prevent damage before it occurs, but a new driver in controlled conditions is no more dangerous than taking most cars out for a drive in traffic on today’s roads. 

Attempt a project you normally wouldn’t 

Quick adjustments before the return trip home.
Quick adjustments before the return trip home. Kyle Smith

Stretch your mechanical comfort zone a bit and tackle something that you would normally send off to a shop. For some this might be a simple oil change or tire rotation; more experienced DIYers could be diving into upholstery work or paint preparation.

The goal here is to push yourself to learn something new and get that much more intimate with your car. The satisfaction of doing it yourself is addicting, and seeing the results of a project that once intimidated you is a reminder that, with some time and research, we are capable of a lot more than we sometimes think.

Have an automotive New Year’s resolution of your own? Leave it in the comments below.

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