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How to Organize Vehicle Files

How to organize vehicle files

Organize your vehicle paperwork

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Hey, y’all, I am decluttering and organizing vehicle paperwork today. This is a larger part of my February Declutter Calendar, but it can be done any time of the year! So, let’s dive in and discuss all the essential documents you need and how to organize them.

Getting Organized

Keeping your auto documents organized and decluttered helps ensure that you keep on top of everything that comes up when you own a vehicle. Creating systems for your important documents means that you can find everything you need quickly and without a lot of time spent, especially if you need maintenance on a vehicle or plan to sell it.

Steps to declutter and organize your vehicle paperwork
Steps to Organize Vehicle Paperwork

Gather all your vehicle paperwork in one place

This step is self-explanatory. Start by gathering all of your vehicle paperwork together in one place. You may have papers in your car or in your console that are not organized throughout your paper system. Gather them in one place to assess what you need to keep and where.

Keep, Toss or Shred

After you have collected everything in one place, you will start sorting them into three piles: keep, toss, or shred. Only keep the paperwork for vehicles that you own now. You do not have to keep paperwork on any cars that you no longer own. If there are any duplicate or unnecessary items, put them in the shred pile if they have any vital information. Throw away any excess paperwork like advertisements or envelopes collected in the mail. If you are unsure of the critical documents, here are a few that you might want to consider:

Important Auto documents
Important Auto Documents

File Digitally

You have already decided what the most critical paperwork is at this point in the process. Now, to ensure you have a backup, you should go ahead and make a digital copy of it and file it in your digital organization system. If you are looking for guidance on organizing your digital files, you can check out my article here: How to Declutter and Organize your digital files.

File into your Physical Filing System

After ensuring you have a digital copy of all your most important paperwork, it’s time to file it in your paper system. I use List & File military life binders to help me keep all of my paperwork organized and easy to find. Note: For your auto paperwork, you need to make sure to have a copy of your insurance, registration, and license somewhere handy while you drive. According to Nationwide Insurance’s article, it is not advisable to keep your registration in the glove box. Check out the full article for their recommendations for what you should (and should not!) keep in the glove box.


It is imperative to keep up with your auto paperwork. Still, with a bit of work and a small amount of maintenance throughout the year, this is one of the categories that I find to be the easiest to keep organized and decluttered. How about you? How does this process sound to you? Let me know in the comments!

Looking to declutter this year? Start with my 30-day declutter checklist now.

Wanna learn more about my 5-step paper process? Check out the article here.

Happy Organizing, y’all!

9 Responses

  1. This is really nice Jana, I bet a lot of people have their papers in piles. It’s like any other folder you have, medical or house appliances, auto file is very important and you did a wonderful explanation of how to. Thanks for sharing.

  2. That’s interesting, Jana, that Nationwide doesn’t want the driver to keep a copy of the registration in the glove box. Where do they suggest you keep it? I think if you’re pulled over by the police, they ask you for your driver’s license and registration.
    Also, depending on where you get your car serviced, they keep digital records. I know the app for my car keeps track of all my service appointments. The service department doesn’t give me a paper copy any more. Interesting isn’t it – how much information is handled in the clouds.

  3. I keep my cars for a long time and that folder can get fat. I finally decided that I did not need to keep old routine maintenance paperwork. I decided to only keep the most recent copy of
    tire replacement, battery replacement or oil changes. I do keep any major work done on the car.

  4. I found that we still need to keep paper copies of things for the car, but we are slowly able to get and use digital registration and insurance files. I’m able to now send the insurance card and registration to each person in my household who owns a car through our password manager.

  5. Love the video!

    I think this is so helpful because so many people have more “mobile” lives these days. It helps to have important information available in a digital format. You never know when you are going to need it. Yes, some people like you may have a full, physical relocation, and be able to bring their paperwork (e.g., your binders) along. In other cases, people may be co-locating with their job temporarily and leave most of that stuff at home. In this case, having access to digital information could really be a lifesaver.

    Great walk through how to accomplish this!

    1. Thank you so much! I think I like the video “vlog” format as a way to create more content for more users. I know people can consume content in so many ways now, so it’s nice to have the video option. I totally agree. I would go fully digital now, but I know there are still instances where people need the hard copies of everything.

      Thank you for reading!

  6. What a great video! You did great talking through the vehicle paper/digital organizing systems! I like the binder system for certain things. But for some clients, the binder becomes challenging to insert things, so a traditional file is more manageable.

    The most important part is creating a system you will use and has removed any barriers to entry.

    1. I can definitely see how a traditional file system would work best for some clients. Yes, when creating a system it has to work for YOU and be manageable. Thank you so much for the feedback and thanks for reading!

  7. First, I love that you added a video element. Some people definitely get more out of listening/watching than reading, and this is also a great way to expand your audience.

    Next, in 22 years of professional organizing, I’ve never had a military family client, so I’m very glad to know about List & File Military Life Binders. I’ve taken note of the resource!

    For many of my clients, using a binder (and the ensuing friction of having to hole-punch stick papers before inserting them in binders (vs. using folders in a filing system) is a non-starter, but for military families, I’m betting there’s an inclination to follow the rules and not fuss about it! I feel similarly about putting everything car-related into a digital file; insurance cards are now in the apps (and I upload a photo of mine to Dropbox or Evernote, for quick access), but it might be a tough sell for my clients to scan and upload their policies, registration, or title/lease, and even more so the ever ongoing papers related to maintenance history,

    However, as military families are a great model for mobility, I’m thinking of examples where individuals and families are similarly mobile and might have less push-back on these concepts, like: families with college students who have cars at school, individuals who travel for work or are otherwise on the road a great deal, snowbirds who don’t bring their paper files with them for when they escape the cold months, etc. Thanks for your wise perspective!

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Jana Arevalo

Hello! I'm Jana

Hi! I’m Jana! I have been a military spouse for 18 years, and I am experienced when it comes to PCS moves, organizing new spaces, and creating more efficient systems for my family. I understand the feeling of anxiety and overwhelm that can come with clutter, and that’s why I love helping military spouses, busy moms and small business owners declutter and organize their homes, digital lives and paperwork!

I am an Amazon Associate as well as an affiliate with some AMAZING military spouse businesses. When you make a purchase using my links you are supporting my small business and I am so grateful! Thank you!


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