Finding the Right Car Club
If you love cars and you are interested in sharing your passion with like-minded people, you may have considered joining a car club. I think it’s a great idea. The benefits are huge and numerous. You can get great advice on fixing up your car, tips on how to clean it, where to drive it, and get to make some new friends. But before you run out and join the first, or every, club you can find, here are a few tips on getting the most out of a good car club.
Depending on where you live, your only option may be to join a car club online. This is fine, but it lacks some of the fun parts of meeting up with others and seeing their cars in person. If you join a car club that is online only, be sure to see if there are dues and what the dues cover. Usually, online-only clubs are free, but just keep your eyes open.
Read through the blogs and see what kind of “feel” you get. Are people constantly arguing nastily? Some good-natured ribbing is always part of a car club, but mean members who are argumentative just for the sake of arguing are no fun. Reading posts will give you a good sense of the personalities of the group.
Often car clubs are both online and offline. This means they meet in person, often once a month or so. It is a great idea to ask if you can visit the club as a guest, at least once. Introduce yourself and get to know some of the members. Again, be on the lookout for know-it-alls. Although every group has them, if you find more than one, or worse, a majority, you might want to pass on this group. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to meet and talk with people who really know a lot about their cars. However, some people think they know everything and want to convince you of that fact.
Another thing to look for is the amount of help you may expect to get from the group. Are they willing to share information, tools, ideas, suggestions, and books (like repair manuals)? Don’t expect them to offer you their tools the first time they meet you, but you can get a sense of their “friendliness” factor. I was in a club where one member said, “Oh, these guys are great. They’ll never leave you stranded.” I then went on an outing where we toured member’s garages. I had fallen behind and was having trouble with my car. I looked around. They all left me stranded. So much for that!
Be sure to check out what dues are required and what they go for. Some groups have very reasonable dues (like $25 a year). This goes for refreshments, cost of the hardcopy newsletter, and rental of the building where they meet. That’s fine. Anything more than that and you should be very careful. If the club is a non-profit, you also may be able to write it off on your taxes, but you must talk with your tax professional about that.
Joining a car/truck/boat/antique club is a lot of fun and worth the effort. Just keep your eyes open and make sure you have a good amount of patience.