6 Back-to-School Car Care Tips for College Students

Can you remember the exhilaration of taking your car to college for the first time? The newfound sense of freedom, the excitement of the open road, and the joy of blasting your favorite tunes on the journey to campus. However, with great freedom comes a certain level of responsibility.

As you prepare for the upcoming academic year and pack your study essentials, it’s equally important to prioritize your vehicle’s condition. This is where our back-to-school car care tips for college students come into play. The following guidelines will ensure your car remains reliable and safe throughout the school year.

Top Off Your Fluids

Ensuring that all your car’s fluids are at the correct levels is crucial to car maintenance. It’s not just about the oil—you should be checking several different types of fluid.

Engine Oil

Your car’s engine oil is essential for lubricating the engine’s internal parts and reducing wear and tear.

Brake Fluid

This is a vital part of your brake system. Low brake fluid can result in a loss of brake pressure, making it much harder to stop your car. Regular checks and top-offs can help you avoid a costly brake repair.

Power Steering Wheel Fluid

Power steering fluid protects your vehicle from wear and tear, but its main function is to help with the steering and motion of the vehicle. When fluid levels are low, the pump can sustain damage, making it very difficult for you to turn your steering wheel.


This fluid is critical for controlling the engine’s temperature and preventing overheating.

Keeping these fluids topped off helps maintain your car’s health, ensure optimal performance, and prevent potential breakdowns. Regular checks can help you avoid costly repairs down the line and ensure a stress-free commute to and from college.

Ensure Your Headlights Are Working

Having functional headlights is a non-negotiable aspect of vehicle safety. Dim or burned-out headlights can significantly impair visibility during nighttime or in adverse weather conditions. This makes it challenging for you to see, but it’s also difficult for other drivers to see you. This can potentially lead to dangerous driving scenarios and may even lead to fines or penalties in some states.

In addition to your headlights, you must check all your vehicle’s lights—including brake lights, turn signals, and reverse lights—to ensure they’re in good working condition. Simply turn on your vehicle and activate each set of lights, walking around the car to visually confirm they are functioning.

Check Your Tires

Tires are your car’s only point of contact with the road, and their condition can significantly impact your vehicle’s performance and safety. Before you hit the road for college, it’s vital to inspect your tires thoroughly.

Start by checking the tire pressure. Correct tire pressure is fundamental for your vehicle’s stability, road grip, and braking distance. Moreover, properly inflated tires help reduce tire wear and fuel consumption. Your car’s owner’s manual will specify the ideal tire pressure for your vehicle.

Next, examine the tire treads. Worn-out or ‘bald’ tires can be hazardous, especially in wet conditions, as they may lose traction, leading to skidding or hydroplaning. A penny test is a simple way to check your tire’s tread depth. Flip Lincoln’s head upside down and place the penny inside your tire’s tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.

Lastly, look for any signs of damage like cuts, punctures, or bulges. You should address any noticeable damage immediately to avoid a potential blowout. Regular tire checks prevent unexpected mishaps and lead to a safer, smoother college commute.

Inspect Your Brakes Regularly

The significance of effective braking is paramount when it comes to vehicle safety. Brakes are indispensable in controlling your car’s speed and ensuring a timely halt, especially in unexpected traffic scenarios or emergencies. Regular inspection of your brakes is crucial to detect any signs of wear or damage early on.

How often should you inspect them? Ideally, every time your car gets serviced. However, if you notice any symptoms, such as unusual noises, vibrations, or decreased braking response, get your brakes checked immediately by a professional brake repair service.

Regular brake inspections contribute to your safety and aid in maintaining your vehicle’s overall health. Remember, proactive brake maintenance can help you avoid extensive repairs in the future, saving you both time and money.

Charge or Replace Your Car Battery

Before you head off to college, it’s crucial to ensure your car battery is in good shape. An unexpected dead battery can be a real inconvenience and potentially disrupt your college commute. To check if your battery needs charging or replacing, look for signs like a slow engine crank, dimming headlights, interior lights, or a warning battery light on your dashboard.

You can also use a multimeter, a device that measures electrical voltage, to check whether your battery is providing enough power. Your battery might need a charge if your multimeter reads less than 12.4 volts. If it still reads low after trying to recharge it, or if your battery is three to five years old (the typical life span of a car battery), it’s likely time for a replacement. Remember, prevention is better than cure. Taking the time to handle battery issues before they become serious can save you from unforeseen troubles down the line.

Assemble an Emergency Kit for Your Vehicle

An emergency kit is a vital component of car care that many people overlook. It can be a lifesaver in case of vehicle breakdowns or other emergencies. Start by including essential tools like jumper cables for those unexpected dead-battery situations and a flashlight to ensure visibility during nighttime emergencies. A tire repair kit is indispensable for any tire-related mishaps, and a basic tool kit (including a screwdriver, pliers, and an adjustable wrench) can help with minor repairs.

Other essentials include a first-aid kit for any health-related emergencies, a multipurpose utility tool, a car charger for your phone, and a blanket. You might also consider some bottled water and nonperishable snacks in case you’re stranded for an extended period. Remember, it’s better to have these items and not need them than to need them and not have them.

Heading back to school is an exciting time, full of new experiences and opportunities. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, it’s essential not to overlook the importance of car care in your preparations. As our back-to-school car care tips for college students indicate, a well-maintained car can significantly contribute to a smooth, stress-free college experience.

These preventive measures can ensure that your vehicle remains reliable and safe throughout the academic year. It’s all about being proactive, so make car maintenance part of your back-to-school routine. Safe travels, and here’s to a successful school year!

Consider getting your vehicle inspected before the school year at Blue Ridge Automotive. We offer a complimentary 48-point inspection on every vehicle that comes through our shop. All of the above car care tips are covered in this inspection. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today!

6 Back-to-School Car Care Tips for College Students
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *