My #FirstCarMoment and the Freedom of the Open Road

I wasn’t one of those lucky 16 year-old kids that received their first car the second they passed their driving test. In fact, I didn’t even get my license until I was 18 and already almost a year out of high school.
I had to practice driving in my best friend’s 1970-something Datsun. The kind of car that was made before the conception of power steering, so not only was I honing my driving skills, but I was getting a nice upper body workout every time I drove somewhere. When I eventually took my driver’s test my aunt lent me her car, which was quite newer than my friend’s car, and I spent the entire test afraid I was going to rip the steering wheel off every time I made a turn, due to my newly acquired massive biceps; at least that’s the way I like to remember it.
After I passed my test there was still no new car, or even used car waiting for me. We were a single income household, and a car payment was just not something we could afford. It wasn’t until I eventually joined the military that I would experience that feeling of the #FirstCarMoment.
I purchased my very first car around the age of 20; it was a green 1995 Ford Escort.

My girlfriend at the time worked for a used car dealership and insisted on being the one to sell me my first car. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best decision I ever made, being that my girlfriend was literally a used car salesman, in every sense of the word. I paid through the nose for that car. But I didn’t care. I was a young man who lived far away from home, and finally could say I owned my first car. When the dealership placed the keys in my hand it felt something like this:

Having a car of my own meant freedom. It meant I could come and go as I pleased. It also meant I instantly became a popular person in my barracks due the fact people had to beg me for rides to places. And while the next year or two of dragging my friends around or doing whatever I wanted was awesome, it wasn’t until the morning I signed out on leave from the Army, for the last time, that I truly felt the freedom having my car provided me. That’s the morning I left my duty station of Ft. Sill, OK and hit the open road back home to San Diego,CA.
A young man of 23 years old having his first ever cross-country (well, half cross-country) road trip. Just me, my car, my music and the road. It felt like every movie I had seen where a young person hit the road to find themselves. It is one of the earliest memories I have of actually feeling like an adult, and I loved it.
I savored every moment of that trip. I took deliberate detours to stop and see the sights. I lingered in towns longer than I needed to, took my time when I stopped to eat, soaking in every moment of being free and on my own. Like in the Pixar film Cars, I wasn’t on the road to make great time, I was on the road to HAVE a great time.
One thing I wish I could change about my experience of owning my first car is that I wish I took better care of it, especially prior to making a 2000-mile journey across the country on my own. I was very lucky nothing serious happened during my summer travels, and looking back I worry about what could have happened. Growing up I knew very little about car maintenance, and it’s still not in my wheel-house of information today. I don’t think in all the time I owned my first car, I even checked my tire pressure; not even once.
This is why I’m glad to be part of the Michelin #FirstCarMoment campaign, where not only are they celebrating the awesome feeling young people get when the receive their first car, but raising awareness of all the possible safety hazards out on the roads that young people face.
Summer is a critical time to remind drivers of the importance of tire safety. The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is often referred to as the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers, based on accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Safety Council.

  • The cold, hard reality is that automobile accidents are the number one killer of teens in America. They account for a shocking five thousand deaths annually.
  • In addition, we know that 12% of the 2.2 million accidents that occur each year with inexperienced drivers are due to tire-related issues (26% are attributed to low tread depth; 32% are attributed to improper tire pressure).
  • Driving on underinflated tires or tires with low tread can lead to safety issues on the road.

The good news is that accidents due to improper tire maintenance are preventable, and simple steps can save lives, including:

  • Checking your tire pressure with a pressure gauge monthly and
  • Learning the proper way to check tread depth

These are two easy tasks that can help you correctly maintain your tires and contribute to overall vehicle safety.
As a tire manufacturer focused on road safety for over 125 years, Michelin feels they have an obligation to raise awareness about this issue, and that with their help, and proper tire care, they can play a role in reducing the roughly 264,000 crashes with inexperienced drivers that occur annually due to tire-related issues.
For more information on safety as well as Michelin products check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Michelin for this promotion.  I have received compensation for my participation, but my first car memories are my own.


3 thoughts on “My #FirstCarMoment and the Freedom of the Open Road

  • June 25, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I live this post. Brought me right back to those “first times” too. We’re driving to our summer vacation spot so these are good tips to keep in mind about our “Shaggin’ Wagon” before we go. 😉

  • June 25, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    My first car. wow–the first one I drove was an old Subaru we called Granny Go-Bot. She was wonderful and could probably have climbed trees if we asked her. I finally got a car of my own. After dad sold my motorcycle cuz I was now in the states and the bike was in Alaska. LaDonna was a blue Datsun. (yes, I named all my cars)
    I so get your sharing on independence. I am at my mom’s for the summer again. I was here last year and did have my own wheels. This summer, I don’t. It sucks. Suddenly this 50 year old first child is about 17 again. I will not borrow mum’s car (she has said I can, but I need to tell her where I’m going, when I’ll be back, and who I’m with) and so, where she goes, there I will go also. le sigh.

    • June 25, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks so much for reading. I totally understand 🙂


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