Note from Audra: This post is courtesy of Bobby Gaglini, Content Director and Strategist at Mechanic Advisor. Expect to see more blogs from him in the future. Thanks for contributing, Bobby. 🙂

On average, commuters spend 38 hours a year in traffic. In bigger cities like New York and Houston, that number jumps to an average of 52 hours a year. That’s over one full workweek of sitting in traffic!

What’s more, is that according to a study at UCLA, our cars are parked about 95% of the time and driven only 5%.

It would appear that during the few moments in which we’re behind the wheel, we’re often sitting in gridlock, not even moving. No wonder people get frustrated on the road!

It’s time we turn those enervating, sometimes unnerving drives into happy, peaceful experiences, no matter how much traffic we end up sitting in. Here are 7 easy ways you can turn your car into your own personal happy place.

1. Keep your car clean.

We’ve all heard that ‘A clean home is a happy home’. This mantra works just as well in regards to your vehicle. Clearing your car of any debris or unnecessary objects can relieve you of stress from clutter and give you the feeling that your car, no matter how big or small, has room to breathe.

In turn, give your car a quick vacuum and shine once a month to create a squeaky-clean look inside that makes you feel right at home.

2. Give it a familiar scent.

Smell is arguably the most important of our five senses. Why keep your vehicle smelling bad when you can control it? It’s as easy as getting an air freshener scent that makes you happy! And whether that smell is fresh baked cookies or new car, it’ll cost you $4, and give you a big smile every time you take a drive.

If you have pets that travel with you, or the car has baked-in smells from years past, splurge a little and get your car professionally shampooed. The results are worth it.

3. Create a soundtrack for your drive.

A good song can put you in a great mood, no matter how bad the traffic situation. Creating mix CDs or having your music with you digitally is key to drowning out the traffic and frustration around you. This also works extremely well for those long drives, especially if you’re alone. Popping some tunes on the radio can make the time pass a little quicker.

Just remember, since traffic is something out of your control, you can’t let it control you. Having a favorite set of songs playing not only helps you relax, it helps keep your vehicle a happy place, even when things seem otherwise.

4. Fuel up early and often.

Some of us push the limits of our fuel tank to the point of starvation, so that we’re forced to rush to a gas station without the confidence that we’ll even make it there at all. This added stressor is easily remedied by filling up your tank before the little light even goes on.

And while shelling out $30+ a week might not make you happy, the stress that comes with needing fuel in the middle of a tough commute goes right out the window.

5. Drive slower.

Speedsters beware, you might not like this one.

Slowing down when behind the wheel has had some very beneficial impacts for some people, including increased happiness.

Driving fast and aggressively breeds stress, and doesn’t get you to your destination much quicker. Even if you drive faster on the highways, there are usually stop signs, lights and traffic that will eventually slow you down. It’s not worth it to risk a speeding ticket, your safety or added stress just to get to your destination a few minutes sooner. Instead, relax, put on some good songs, and drive steady. You’ll get there when you get there.

6. Keep up on vehicle health checks.

While this may not seem like something that makes you happy, it’s absolutely a long term investment. Let’s look at it in two different ways:

The first scenario is if you do not regularly get your vehicle’s oil changed, tire treads checked, brake pads replaced, etc. Apart from having short term issues like flat tires and poorer-than-average gas mileage, the long term impacts of your vehicle may be far worse, generating engine problems, brake rotor issues and more.  If you get to this point, you’ll probably be wishing your car would just disappear instead of having to pour thousands of dollars into it.

But, if you take preventative steps to avoid these long term problems, you’ll look at your healthy car like an old friend instead of an enemy. And while your vehicle will not be immune to all issues, preventative maintenance can you save money in the long run.

7. Use a traffic app.

If it’s tough to keep calm when you’re in traffic, it’s best to try and avoid it altogether. Using a traffic app on your smartphone can help you get around most of the congestion, keeping you cool within your happy space.

Even if the route takes a little bit longer than sticking to the route with traffic, it’s less stressful, and can even show you different ways to get to your destination if there’s ever traffic again.

With all these tips in mind, remember to breathe deep, smell the fresh-baked cookie air freshener, and stay happy during your next ride. If you want to educate and empower your friends, share this blog on Facebook.

About the Writer

Bobby Gaglini is the Content Director and Strategist at Mechanic Advisor, a company with the goal of bridging the communication gap between customers and mechanics. Check out some of his other work, along with a robust and free auto shop directory at

Featured Image Credit

“Happy Smart Car” by Barbara Eckstein (Flickr)

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