Over 20 million students head off to college every fall. Many of these undergrads are packing up their cars and going to out-of-state universities, where they will be fully responsible for a vehicle for the first time in their lives. It’s important that students don’t leave home without knowing the fundamentals of what their cars need. This list contains seven car care fundamentals every college student should learn so they can stay safe and keep their vehicles in good shape while they’re away at school: For a passing grade: Do the basic upkeep to make sure your vehicle runs.
- Keep gas in the tank – Don’t drive your car down to empty and risk running out of fuel.
- Change the oil at regular intervals – It’s recommended that you change the oil in your car every three months or 3,000 miles to keep the engine lubricated. Don’t wait until the end of the semester, or worse yet, the end of the year. This could damage your engine and lead to expensive repairs.
- Test the Tail Lights – Turn your car on and walk around to the back to make sure both the driver and passenger-side tail lights, blinkers and hazards are working. If they’re not, replace the lights or make an appointment with a mechanic to do the repair.
- Check the Fluids – Make sure the levels of your fluids are high. Your mechanic should top them up when you go in for a regular oil change. In between checkups, keep an eye out for fluid leaks, which can be an indicator of a bigger problem like a cracked hose.
- Check the Tire Pressure – Make sure your tires are inflated to the pressure recommended in your owner’s manual. If your tires areunderinflated, your losing fuel economy. If your tires are overinflated, you risk damaging them while driving.
- Clean the Wiper Blades – This is basic maintenance that can keep you safe on the road in inclement weather. You can clean your windshield wipers with a rag or terry cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. Wipe down the blades to remove built up dirt and grime for streak-free windows. If a cleaning doesn’t solve the problem, it might be time to replace the wiper blades.
- Change the Air Filter once a year – This is an affordable fix that can help you get the most out of your gas mileage and keep your engine running smoothly. It’s recommend that you get it changed once every 12-15,000 miles, but your car care professional will let you know if you need to replace it.
- Practice changing a tire – It’s good to know how to change a tire just in case of an emergency. And while you’re practicing, make sure the spare is inflated and in good shape.
- Keep it clean – Get your car washed regularly to remove dirt that can wear away at the paint. It keeps your car looking good, and it will make your parents proud.