For College and High School Students – Save Money and Bring Parents Peace of Mind
With a new school year here again, parents and students are diligently preparing by purchasing books, selecting new clothes, and stocking up on supplies for the classroom. These items are truly essential for any successful educational experience, but what about the student’s means of transportation? Have they thought about the reliability and safety of the car that gets them to and from school?
Proper vehicle maintenance is an important issue that many parents fail to address before their child goes back to school. Whether they’re driving 200 miles to college or three miles to the high school, students should know the basics of auto maintenance. It’s a survival skill that will serve them well throughout the remainder of their adult lives.
“During the school year, a student’s vehicle will be required to go through just about every driving condition imaginable and experience huge swings in weather conditions,” explains Michael Cox of Affordable Automotive in Canton, Michigan. “The trouble is, many young drivers don’t know, or even care, how their car works and what they need to do to keep it good working condition.”
In a survey, it was found that 76% of children have their own car and 82% of those were bought used. And, over half of the cars children own cost under $10,000.
“Most of the cars that students drive are bought used and typically have higher mileage on them,” explains Cox. “It’s just natural that with higher mileage comes more frequent maintenance. The everyday wear and tear on the car becomes an issue and when it’s ignored it eventually costs more.”
“Usually a breakdown becomes a huge hassle that is dropped in the lap of the parent at the worst possible time. If students were taught the importance of good car maintenance habits even the highest mileage cars would be safe and reliable,” he continues.
According to Cox, there are six key maintenance tips every student – high school and college age – should know.
Know how your car works. “It’s amazing how many young people don’t know how the automobile works. Because cars have become so complicated, working with dad on the family car on a Saturday morning has almost become a thing of the past. The basic knowledge of how to maintain and make small repairs has been lost on younger people. It’s important to pop open the hood and explain to them the different parts of the car including where and how to check fluids. Something basic like this can save them a lot of money in the future.”
Keep up with basic maintenance. “The simple things like oil changes and tire rotation make a big difference over the life of the car. Also, making sure that all fluid levels including brake, transmission, and coolant of the car are properly filled is very important. This type of regular maintenance is inexpensive and doesn’t take long but is one of the most critical things you can do to insure you have a reliable car.”
Follow the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. “Most major repairs cost more because the car’s owner ignored the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Car’s wear out; there’s no way around it. When you put off a mechanical problem for a long period of time, it only gets worse and costs a lot more in the end.”
Get to know the sounds of your car. “Cars are noisy contraptions and each one has a unique sound and personality. It’ really important to know your car and be able to recognize what kind of noises are normal and those that are not. If a strange noise is coming from under the hood, chances are something is wearing out and needs maintenance. By paying attention to your car and knowing its sounds, you’ll know when something is wrong and fix it before it’s too late.”
Pay attention to your dash board lights. “The gauges and warning lights on the dash board are the best indicators of how your car is doing. When the temperature gauge rises or the oil pressure gauge drops, you know you have a problem that’s serious. The “Check Engine” light is also important but often ignored by young drivers. This detects more subtle problems that typically lead to bigger issues. Don’t ignore this light, its there for a reason!”
Have your car inspected before you buy. “When you purchase a vehicle, even a used one, you are not looking at it objectively. The excitement of getting a new car causes you to overlook the unpleasant details of what repairs will soon be needed. A qualified mechanic can thoroughly inspect the car and spot major repair issues before you buy. Their experience and knowledge of the repair history of different brands will help you avoid making a costly mistake. No one wants to buy a lemon, and unfortunately, someone is always trying to sell one.”
By following these practical tips students can make sure their vehicle is reliable and ready when they need it. And, parents will have the peace of mind that their child is driving in a safely maintained car.