3 ways to make 2016 your best car year

Here's a "bright" idea: Make 2016 your car year.,Here's a "bright" idea: Make 2016 your car year.

With 2016 up ahead and 2015 in the rearview mirror, Americans everywhere are taking advantage of the fresh start by renewing their vows to improve themselves. Common New Year's resolutions include losing weight, feeling great, or once and for all ending the debate about making a change, be it in a job or relationship.

But with many of us spending literally days – not hours – in traffic per year, have you thought about making a New Year's resolution that's geared toward your car? Whether it's buying a new one or being a more conscientious motorist, we could all use a good "tune up." The following are a few ideas that can help fine tune your life on the road.

Get to know your car

Thanks to technology, vehicles today are safer than they've ever been before, evidenced by a wide assortment of safety features and custom designs that reinforce motorists protection if they're in an accident. However, few are aware of these enhancements or how to use them, as detailed recently in a J.D. Power and Associates survey.

The National Safety Council aims to better acquaint drivers with their vehicles through a website launched this past summer called MyCarDoesWhat.org.

"The fact is that safety technologies save lives, yet many drivers don't know what they are or how to use them," said Deborah Hersman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Safety Council. "Knowledge is power. MyCarDoesWhat.org puts motorists in the driver's seat to make our roads safer."

Daniel McGehee, Director of Transportation and Vehicles Safety Research at the University of Iowa's Public Policy Center, added that by learning more about these enhancements – like back-up cameras, blind spot monitoring, anti-lock braking systems, and rear cross traffic alert – motorists are doing a service both to themselves as well as their fellow commuters.

Make safety a priority

Those dreaded "check engine" lights can be a real pain in the neck, but they're important to address for the sake of safety. In addition to being more conscientious about taking care of these alerts quickly, you may want to buy a car that's more reliable. A recent study done by CarMD concluded that Hyundais typically have the fewest "check engine" light repairs among today's most popular nameplates. Also scoring well were Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Chrysler.

Shop for auto insurance

Buying a car is one of the biggest financial decisions people make, which is why it's important to protect the investment with the proper auto insurance policy. However, you may be spending more for your coverage than you need to be. Many people don't realize that until they compare auto insurance quotes. Even though quote comparison shopping is more available today than ever before, fewer people are taking advantage of it, based on a recent survey conducted by comScore. Just 46% of consumers say they've shopped for a new policy in 2015, on par with 2014, but down from 52% in 2012.

"Consumers can access the Internet to view insurance options via multiple devices, which puts them in control while shopping more so now than ever before," explained Susan Engleson, comScore Senior Director.

Among those who shopped, roughly two-thirds did it in an effort to save money. The second most common reason, at 19%, was bought a new or used car.

Driving a car may not be a central part of your life, but it's at the very least a part of it, making it worthy of a renewed commitment to being a smart consumer and commuter. Here's to a happy and healthy 2016 that's paved with potential.