Getting Your Car Ready for College

Students are busy preparing for college and the last thing on their list – if it makes the list at all – is checking out the condition of the car they will take to school. The expectation may be that parents handle the routine auto maintenance, but regardless of who does it, the Car Care Council recommends a thorough checkup on the car before it leaves to ensure safety and reliability.

The following most overlooked items should be checked: tires and tire pressure, hoses and belts, air filters, wipers, exterior and interior lighting, and fluid levels, including engine oil, power steering, brake, transmission, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

On today’s modern vehicles, a 21st Century tune-up should also be done, which includes inspecting the following systems: battery, charging and starting; engine mechanical; powertrain control; fuel; ignition; and emissions.

“When a car is properly maintained, it is safer and more dependable. A preventative maintenance checkup before heading off to college also provides the opportunity to have repairs made at home with your own technician who knows the vehicle, and helps reduce the chances of costly and dangerous road trouble,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council.

The council also recommends that college-bound students have important telephone numbers in their cell phone or glove box in case of a breakdown or emergency. Vehicles should have a roadside emergency kit that includes items such as flares, a first aid kit, a tire-changing jack, a tire pressure gauge, jumper cables and a blanket.

A Shop Finder area on the Car Care Council Web site,, can help locate the nearest repair facility if vehicles need maintenance and repair while students are away at college.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For more information, visit