AAA’s Car Care Lessons for the College Bound
ORLANDO, Fla., (July 17, 2013) – Nearly 22 million students will head to college this fall. However, while many parents prepare their teens with instructions about personal safety, laundry and cooking, they sometimes forget to address the important subject of automobile maintenance and repair before sending their young adult off to college with a vehicle.
“Frequently, a teenager’s vehicle is maintained by parents while living at home, and lessons on proper car care are only briefly discussed and seldom utilized,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Before hitting the road, it is vital that your college student fully understands how to independently take care of their vehicle.”
Before sending a son or daughter off to college with an automobile, AAA encourages parents to sit down with the child and discuss a plan for proper vehicle maintenance, as well as how to deal with unexpected problems when parental rescue is more than just a few minutes away.
Check and Maintain Tires
Tires are one of the easiest components of a vehicle to maintain, but they are frequently overlooked until something goes wrong. Every student should have a tire pressure gauge in their vehicle, know where it is located, and understand how to use it properly. . While there are a variety of tire pressure gauges, those with electronic readouts might be the easiest for the teen to use. Explain that tires should be checked at least once a month when the tires are cold.
Show your young adult where to find the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure – typically on a label located on the driver’s door jamb or in the glove box. It is important to let them know they should not use the inflation pressure found on the tire sidewall. That is the tire’s maximum pressure level, but it might not be the correct pressure for the tire when used on their particular vehicle.
To demonstrate proper tire care, AAA offers a number of short videos that can be viewed on the AAA YouTube channel. These videos can be easily saved and sent as reminders to your child to take a few minutes and check their tires.
Know the Vehicle’s Maintenance Schedule
Performing the manufacturer’s regularly scheduled maintenance on a vehicle will greatly extend its life and help ward off more costly repairs down the road. While it’s a good idea to make sure your student’s car is current with all maintenance items prior to sending them off to college, it’s possible some items will be due while they are away.
Sit down and go over the owner’s manual with your son or daughter. Explain the recommended maintenance schedule and remind them that in addition to basic oil changes other important items such as filters, batteries and brakes must also be regularly checked and maintained. AAA recommends that parents and teens create a shared calendar with reminders so both are aware of any upcoming required maintenance or services.
The school year spans the winter months when inclement weather can place added demands on vehicle electrical systems. The average lifespan of a car battery is three to five years, so AAA recommends that any battery in this age range be checked before the student leaves for school. In many areas, the AAA Mobile Battery Service will come to a member’s home and provide this service at no charge.
Find a Repair Facility Near College
It is important for parents to help teens identify an auto repair shop they can trust near their school in case routine servicing or unexpected repairs become necessary.
If unfamiliar with the area around a college, visit AAA.com/Repair to locate nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. As a free public service for all motorists, AAA inspects auto repair shops around the country and only approves those that meet and continually maintain high professional standards for equipment, customer service, cleanliness and training.
When first arriving at the college, AAA recommends parents and students visit the selected repair shop and meet the staff. Ask for some shop business cards that you and your teen can keep handy in case an emergency arises.
Prepare for Roadside Emergencies
It is also important for parents to prepare their children for a breakdown or other roadside emergency – especially if they are attending college too far away to ‘call home’ for help.
Make sure the teen’s vehicle has a well-stocked roadside emergency kit with contents suitable for local weather conditions during the school year. A basic kit should include a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, first-aid kit, bottled water, rags or paper towels, a tire pressure gauge, a blanket, granola or energy bars, and a selection of basic hand tools. In areas with winter ice and snow, add an ice scraper, snow brush and kitty litter or other material to increase traction if stuck in snow.
For added peace of mind, provide the teen membership in a motor club such as AAA that offers reliable roadside assistance through a large dedicated network of service providers with good coverage in and around the college. Remember, AAA’s many benefits are available to members no matter whose vehicle in they are in, so parents won’t have to worry about their teen being stranded in a friend’s vehicle with no access to emergency road service.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.