With summer coming to an end and the fall semester of college starting soon, you may not see your child or car for another three months. College is a major life milestone for families and the thought of sending your child off to school in a vehicle on the road can be concerning.
Simple car maintenance tips – like checking car fluids and inspecting the tire tread – can ease your mind and help your child have a safer ride to campus. Before sending them off, use the below checklist to help make sure the vehicle is road ready.
Adjust for Extra Loads
Towing or carrying extra items for that first trip to the school? If so, you may need to increase the vehicle’s tire pressure to accommodate the additional weight of the load. Refer to your owner’s manual for alternate recommended pressures.
Check the Fluids
Oil, coolant and washer fluids are all critical to keeping a car running smoothly. A quick check by you or a mechanic before the semester can ensure they’re up-to-date and likely won’t need to be replaced again until Thanksgiving.
Invest in a Tire Gauge
For as little as $1, you can equip your college-age child with a gauge to check their tire pressure. Check tires “cold” for the most accurate reading. This means in the morning before you drive more than a few miles or before the sun’s heat can affect them.
Know the Proper Pressure
The optimal tire pressure for your car can be found on a sticker in the door jamb, on the inside of the glove compartment door or in the owner’s manual. Do not inflate tires to the maximum pressure molded onto the tire’s sidewall.
Inspect the Tread
Unsure of whether tires are too worn? You can use a coin like a quarter to check your tread depth. If you can see the very top of George Washington’s head when the coin is inserted into the tread, you have less than 4/32″ of tread remaining. In most states 2/32″ is the legal minimum.
Keep the Seasons in Mind
It may be sweltering hot when the school year begins but cold weather is around the corner. Tire pressures drop along with the temps, so it’s important to check pressure each month. Depending on the school’s location, a good all-season or even winter tires may be needed to contend with snow.
A basic safety kit stowed in trunk can come in handy in case your child has car trouble at school. You can find ready-made kits at most auto parts stores or create your own.
Don’t Forget the Spare
Even spare tires lose pressure over time. Putting underinflated spare tires into service greatly increases the risk of catastrophic failure. Check your spare tire’s pressure monthly with the rest of the set.
Thank you to Michelin for providing this helpful list of tips. For a deeper dive into preparing your child and automobile for the drive to campus, visit http://betheremoments.com/ to see other family stories and find advice on an easy transition into college for you and your teen.