There's still a few weeks of summer vacation left, but all the students know that the start of school is creeping up on us and there's nothing we can do about it. Most colleges and universities start school in mid to late August, which means all the college students will be driving off to their institutes of higher education. College students have a lot on their minds, and so often that means "car care" gets shuffled down lower in the order of priority somewhere between "balance check book" and "delete old Instagram photos".
Taking care of their cars is not a high priority for more of the college students we've known in our lifetimes. And that's unfortunate because taking good care of their ride will pay dividends later on by making it last longer and preserving the resale value of the vehicle. So we decided to collaborate with our friends at www.christiancolleges.com to send out some car care tips for college students.
SUGGESTION #1 - CHECK TIRE PRESSURE AND TREAD REGULARLY
Tires are expensive, so simply checking the pressure and keeping them properly inflated will make them last longer. Plus it will give you better gas mileage, saving you money there. How often should they be checked? Once a month is a good measure. What pressure should you aim for? Check your driver side doorjam for the automaker recommendation of the proper tire pressure when the tire is cold (remember that tire pressure goes up as it warms up).
SUGGESTION #2 - CHANGE THE OIL.
Our friends at christiancollege.com recommend oil changes every 3,000 miles. We don't think it needs to be that often, though it does depend on how much driving you do and under what conditions. Every 5,000 - 7,000 miles is the norm, but the norm is also every 3-4 months. And it's more important to do it regularly than worry about whether it's 3k or 5k or 7k. Regular oil changes are the single most important thing anyone can do for the life of their engine.
SUGGESTION #3 - CHANGE THE AIR FILTER ONCE A YEAR
Contrary to some previous advice, having a clean air filter doesn't really save gas. But it can make a big difference in the performance of the car. And every engine needs a good supply of clean air for it to function properly. Once a year is a good bench mark, but if the college student drives home a lot, say, on the weekends, then think every 15,000 miles.
SUGGESTION #4 - REGULAR TIRE ROTATIONS EVERY 5,000 TO 10,000 MILES
For the same reasons that keeping tires properly inflated is important. Tires are expensive, and not rotating them at the proper intervals makes them wear out faster. It may cost $30.00 to have them rotated, but it will cost $500 watching them wear out faster than they need to. Plus, driving on unevenly worn tires isn't the safest thing in the world.
SUGGESTION #5 - CLEAN IT UP
A clean car looks nicer and holds resale value better. Not that that ever stopped a college student from using their car as a trash dumpster or letting the crud and bird poop accumulate on their paint for months at a time.
SUGGESTION #6 - SAVE TIME AT THE PUMP
When you have to get out of the car to pump the gas, take the time to inspect the car while you're out. Clean the windshield. Check out if it's time for a wash. Check your tire pressure now, as well. Use your time wisely; you're more likely to think about these kinds of things when you're out pumping gas and actually looking at your car.
SUGGESTION #7 - PAY ATTENTION TO THE SIGNS THE CAR IS GIVING YOU
By this, we mean to say that the owner and driver of the car is the one who knows it best. Sometimes, the student may be driving and something won't feel quite right about it. That's the time to take it in to the mechanic. Oh, and by the way, it's important for a college student to get recommendations on a good, honest mechanic. That's one of the first things we would recommend asking when going to a new area. A good mechanic who can be trusted is worth keeping around. Because it's hard enough paying attention in psych class without wondering if the shop guy is just going to rip you off.
This post was published on August 8, 2013 and was updated on May 21, 2019.