I no longer drive a piece of shit car, ladies and gentleman, so please don’t park next to me on campus.

After four years of driving a 15-year-old Chrysler Cirrus that gave me more problems than Lindsay Lohan gives her probation officer, I spent my entire winter break searching for a sexy new piece of reliable machinery.

And after all the online searching and walking through car lots, I learned a few valuable nuggets of wisdom.

First, your car should be your most prized possession, unless you’re a spoiled Long Island girl and your daddy bought you your two-door Nissan Altima. It’s something you put a lot of money into (in my case, almost $15,000) and you should treat it that way.

This new car has become my child — I treat it as if I carried it for nine months, gave birth to it through all-natural water birthing, and I now feed it organic food and clothe it only in the finest linens. I also don’t let it play with the dirtier children.

I don’t park my car near any other cars. I don’t start it without letting it sit in accessory mode for 15 seconds. I don’t kick the door open with my feet anymore. I don’t put anything on my seats. I don’t let anyone else drive it.

Second, learn a little bit about cars before you go shopping for one. There are so many skeeze-ball used car salesman who spew lies about cars and gas mileage and previous owners. Know that you should always ask for a CarFax, and that the average mileage per year that should be put on a car ranges from 10,000 to 15,000. So, you probably shouldn’t get an ‘08 with 70,000 miles on it.

Try to get a warranty, and learn the parameters of that warranty like you’re studying for a final. If your warranty is the remainder of the factory warranty, make sure it’s not just the drive train one, but also the bumper to bumper — that was not the case in my old car, so the scratch I discovered after I bought the car sent me into one of my biggest bitch fits ever.

Step onto a car lot with some knowledge about cars and the understanding that you need to be firm with these people. Also, always tell them a lower price than what you want to pay. That way, they don’t try and sell you a car that’s slightly more expensive in the hopes that you’ll spend the extra money.

Third, be paranoid. Understand that people on the road (especially up here) are idiots. And understand that everyone parks like Michael J. Fox. For instance, two days after I got my new car, I sat in it in a parking lot waiting for it to warm up. (This was before I got the remote start installed, be jealous.) As I was sitting, I watched a woman pull up far too close in the spot next to me in a beat-up Hyundai Elantra. I stared at her as she flung her car door open (barely missing my gorgeous child) and proceeded to rummage about in her embarrassment of a vehicle, looking for her wallet or her dignity, whatever. It was a windy day, I had a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, and lo and behold, the wind pushed her car door into mine!

I proceeded to scream like a banshee at her while still in my car, only to get out and chase her away after she licked her finger and rubbed the spot on my car that she hit.

I blacked out in anger then, but I do remember threatening physical and emotional harm if she did not step away from my vehicle. I also remember the distinct smell of burning rubber as I spun my tires angrily to get away from her.

She will never park too close to a car again.

Simply put, buying a new car has taught me more about money and being a smart buyer. It has taught me how remarkably well I treat things I have paid for out of my own pocket.

And it has taught me (well, actually just reiterated a previously solid fact) that almost everyone on the road is an idiot, and if you have a new car you have to guard it like the Autobots protect the All-Spark from the Decepticons.