College Car Prep: Sending Your Student Off Safely

Sep 11, 2018

Have a student heading to college this fall? Here’s a helpful checklist to make sure their vehicle is ready for the road ahead.

01. Get An Inspection

If there was ever a time to get a full-service inspection just in case, it’s right before sending your child away to live on their own for the first time.

A service station will be able to check the belts, brakes, shocks, coolant system, transmission—and of course, change the oil. You’ll sleep easier knowing that an expert has looked over your kid’s vehicle.

02. Check Your Fluids

Even if your kid is responsible and organized, there’s a good chance they’ll forget to regularly check the fluid levels in their vehicle.

Make sure the car’s engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid are full. And check to make sure there’s not a leak anywhere either, or you’ll be refilling much sooner than you might’ve hoped.

03. Test the Car Battery

Don’t let your child run the risk of missing a big test or a final exam because their car won’t start.

Test your battery’s lifespan with a voltmeter—analog will do if that’s what you’ve got, but a digital voltmeter will give you a more accurate reading. Just make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves and goggles when you check it. It might be a good idea to have your child keep a pair of jumper cables in the car, too.

(Note: If you’ve never tested your car battery before, we’d recommend having a professional do it for you the first time. Always best to play it safe.)

04. Inspect Your Tires

A flat tire won’t just slow you down—it could potentially cause an accident.

Test the tire pressure on all four of your tires (plus your spare if you’ve got one) with a pressure gauge, but make sure you do the test before driving rather than right after.

And if you want to test the tread depth of your tires, all you need is a penny. Slide the penny between the grooves, and if Abe Lincoln’s head is covered up, you’re good to go.

05. Check Your Lights

This one is quick and easy, but it can save you a headache (and potentially a traffic citation).

Have your child turn on their car, then stand outside as they turn on the headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and emergency flashers. Given that each light comes in a pair, it’s pretty easy to overlook when one has burned out.

06. Pack a Roadside Emergency Kit

One of the best things about our vehicles is that they’re sort of like mobile storage units, right?

We wouldn’t recommend making a car your second closet, but do pack a roadside emergency kit, including a first aid kit, a tire jack, a tire pressure gauge, flares, jumper cables, and other basic essentials like a blanket, gloves, non-perishable snacks, and a bottle of water. You never really know what you’ll need, right?

07. Sign Up For Roadside Assistance

No matter how prepared your kid is for their voyage to college, unavoidable and unpreventable incidents will occur eventually.

One way to make sure your kid is always safe and accounted for is to invest in a roadside assistance service. That way they’ll have a lifeline they can call no matter where they are, no matter what the issue is.

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Tags: DIY