Over 20 million students will be heading to college this fall. Parents prepare them for leaving the nest with lists and instructions about safety, hygiene, personal finance, laundry, cooking, and good study habits. However if these young adults are taking a vehicle to campus – whether across town or across the country – they also need tips about automobile maintenance and repair. Have Liberty Auto Centers help maintain your car.
Parents are encouraged to sit down with their child and go over proper vehicle maintenance and safety, plus how to deal with problems ranging from a flat tire to a dead battery to extensive repairs.
Tires are actually easy to maintain, but they are frequently overlooked unless something goes wrong. Every student should have a tire pressure gauge in their vehicle and know how to use it. Tires should be checked monthly when temperatures are cold. It is important to know where to find the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. Do not confuse it with the inflation pressure found on the tire itself. This is the tire’s maximum pressure level and not necessarily the correct pressure for driving. Tires are the part of the vehicle that rides the road, so keeping them checked and maintained is critical for safety.
Vehicle Maintenance Schedule
Performing the manufacturer’s regularly scheduled maintenance on a vehicle can extend its life. It also help avoid breakdowns and costly repairs down the road. Some maintenance items will no doubt be due while the student is away from home at college.
Start with the owner’s manual and explain the recommended maintenance schedule. It is important to stress that basic oil changes are not a panacea. There are filters, batteries, brakes, lights, wipers and tires (again!) that need regularly checking, and possible rotating, flushing, or replacement. Making a calendar with reminders for required maintenance or services can be helpful.
The school year spans the winter months when inclement weather. Cold temperatures place added demands on vehicle electrical systems – specifically batteries. The average lifespan of a car battery is three to five years, so a good rule of thumb is to check any battery in this age range before a student leaves for school. Especially during cold winter months it is recommended that the vehicle be started and driven at least once a week. There is nothing more frustrating than a dead battery – especially if the weather outside is frightful.
Roadside Emergency Prep
Even with a rigorous vehicle maintenance schedule, unfortunately breakdowns and emergencies do happen. This can be doubly stressful for the student if they are at college too far away to “phone home” for help. Being prepared can make all the difference.
Make sure the teen’s vehicle has a well-stocked roadside emergency kit with contents suitable for local weather conditions during the school year. A basic kit should include jumper cables, a flashlight (with extra batteries), road flares, and a fire extinguisher, in addition to a tire gauge and the owner’s manual specific to your car, truck, or van. A first aid kit and a blanket are also recommended, along with bottled water, granola bars, and an extra cell phone charger. In areas with winter ice and snow, add an ice scraper, snow brush and kitty litter or other material to increase traction if stuck in snow. Remember that it’s also a good idea to have the roadside assistance phone number handy. It’s generally located on the back of your proof of auto insurance card – another item to make sure is always on board! Consider adding the number to your cell phone contacts, although hopefully you won’t have to use it.