Maintaining a Vehicle in College

One of the lesser-talked-about benefits of college is that students learn to become independent. College acts sort of as a minor league system where students in their late-teens and early-twenties get the chance to discover themselves and learn independent life skills before they become a full-fledged, tax-paying citizen.

Understanding basic car maintenance is a great skill to have in the adult world and especially for college students. Since your child will be away from you, surrounded by similar aged kids, teaching them basic car maintenance can help save them time and money. Since they’re mostly surrounded by similarly aged friends who might not know car maintenance, they could become a great asset to for their peers as well. Follow this checklist for what your newly enrolled college student should know before their big move-in day.

Check, change and refill all essential fluids

Consult with your owners manual to learn how to check some of the easier fluids on your own. College gets busy and a student could feel overwhelmed at first and forget about the vehicle. Consider hitting the reset button and refueling these liquids before the school year so they do not forget to do so while being wrapped up in the significant life changes they will experience in the upcoming months.

Test & Clean Battery

Inspect all 5 tires

No, that was not a typo. Check all 5 tires including the spare. A flat tire is already a headache, but that headache turns into a migraine you have a faulty spare. Checking the spare is any easy way to avoid getting stranded.

Monitoring tire pressure is essential for not only fuels efficiency, but for safety and preventing blowout (speaking of blowouts, check the spare tire, again). While your tires will state a recommended PSI, your owners manual lists the correct PSI for the vehicle—follow the owners manual.

Show your newly collegiate student how to look for damaged, low tread and other elements to the tires that may could lead to problems. Worn tires can be a serious safety rick.

Take them on a car-care crash course

  • Changing a flat

College is a whirlwind of experiences—a series of random, storyful events. Don’t let “being stranded because I didn’t know how to change a tire” become one of those stories. Everyone blows a tire at some point in their life, so changing a tire is a necessary skill. Knowing this skill may actually come in handy when a friend needs a tire changed as well.

  • Checking oil

Oil is an essential lubricant to a cars engine. While it’s not necessary to your young student them how change the oil (many newer models need a professional change anyway) checking the oil is simple and can be done in minutes.

  • Jumpstarting the battery

First, buy your student a pair of jumper cables to keep in their car at all times. It will come in very handy. During my first few years in college, I ALWAYS forgot to turn my lights off and probably needed a jump once a month. Luckily, I knew how to jump my car, mostly from trial and error, but this is a great skill to learn.

  • Check the tire pressure and how to refill

An under-inflated tire can cause problems. An under-inflated tire lowers a vehicles fuel efficiency and can lead to a complete blowout (good thing you taught them how to change a tire). Go over the necessary stems to monitoring air levels and make sure to check the car manual, not the tire, for the accurate air pressure levels.

Understand the importance of washing

Your young driver might not understand the importance of washing their car. While it might seem tedious, washing a vehicle is vital to it’s maintenance. To start, excess dirt and dust acts as sandpaper, slowing wearing down the paint layer by layer. This is only magnified when mixed with rain or pollutants. Bird and tree sap also accelerates the paints aging process. When the paint is finally worn away, the cars body biomes exposed to the weather, leading to rust and other damage to the body.

It’s a good idea to get their vehicle professionally inspected before sending them off to school. Bring your vehicle into Shadow Lake Collision and Repair to make sure the car is in good shape. College is a time for growing and learning, take some weight of their shoulders so they can focus on this transition, not vehicle maintenance.