Before you hop in your car and head off for college, take some to ensure your voyage will be pleasant and without any unpleasant surprises.
Check under the Hood
The first thing you will want to do is get a look under the hood of your car. Check these things:
In your owner’s manual you will find a detailed diagram indicating the locations of your power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant, engine oil and transmission fluid. Make sure you only add as much fluid as indicated in the user’s manual instructions.
For fluid leaks
Take a look under the car to see if your fluids is leaking and to what extent. If you do find fluids dripping from under the car, the color of the oil should give you some indication of what you are dealing with. Cars that have more mileage on the will typically leak some fuel but this is not a serious problem. Just add some more each time the levels get low.
Old and defective batteries must be replaced as soon as possible, use a voltmeter to check your batteries conditions. Then use a wire brush to clean away any corrosion at the terminals and make sure that all the wires are tight and in good condition.
Belts and hoses
Check all the belts and hoses you can find. Scan them for evidence of damage or disrepair and replace them as needed.
TIRES AND BRAKES
Inspect your tires to make sure their tread depth is suitable for any travels and not embedded with any road debris. Make sure your spare tire is filled with and ready for replacements and that your jack and service tools are in good order. Also check the air pressure of your tires and make sure they are filled to the proper levels.
Drive the car around and to check for abnormalities in the brakes and listen for any strange sounds. Stop on an incline and slowly engage and disengage your brake pedals, was the stop and release smooth, direct and silky or did you feel the car pull to one side, grind to a halt or screech under strain. Don’t take these issues lightly, get your car’s braking system inspected by a mechanic.
Unless you have mirrors in your garage, you will need an extra set of eyes for this task. Get your partner to sit in the driver’s seat and switch on each of the lights one by one. Make sure you get a look at each function individually. Check the high-beams, low-beams, the directional and braking lights. Finally, put the car in reverse to make sure the taillights are also functioning. Replace any bulbs that are dim or burned out.
OTHER CAR CARE TIPS
Once you have addressed the really important issues above, there are a few more minor tasks that will contribute to a pleasant trip.
Don’t count on good weather; if your wipers are worn and used swap them out quickly with a new pair. Older blades will leave your windshield streaky, muddy and even scratched.
All college kids need to ensure they have the right equipment on hand should an emergency arise. This should include roadside flares, bottled water and food, batteries and good flashlight, jumper cables, a basic set of tools (even if you don’t know how to make repairs perhaps someone else will) and kitty litter (this is for adding traction to the ground and getting out of a ditch).
Detail it inside and out
Furthermore, do all you can to make your car as clean and attractive as possible. A top-notch auto detailing will address all those areas that don’t get full attention in your average car wash. In addition to protection for the inside, this will also protect the car from harmful UV rays.
Find car services near your school
You will find many colleges and universities will offer free roadside assistance to their students, but, you will still need to locate a good auto-repair shop near your new location. Call them when you need assistance.