General Education

How to Maintain Your Car While in College

How to Maintain Your Car While in College
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Kevin Tshiamala August 14, 2014

Having a car in college can make life easier, but can mean less money in your pocket, especially if you don’t take proper care of your car. Here’s how to keep your car driving for years, all while staying on your college budget.

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Although having a car on campus means freedom, accessibility, and flexibility, it can also bring pains such as maintenance problems, parking tickets, and high expenses.

If you’re one of the fortunate ones to have a car while you’re in college, there are a few necessary pieces of information you must know in order to maintain your vehicle and save more pocket money. As John Nielson, director of AAA Automotive Engineering stated, “Before hitting the road, it is vital that … college student[s] fully understands how to independently take care of their vehicle."

Know the Maintenance Schedule of the Vehicle

In order to extend the life of your car, get tune ups. A tune up usually consists of scheduled maintenance on different parts throughout three month intervals.

The first three month inspection or about 5,000 miles usually consists of the following:

  • An oil check/oil change
  • Power steering fluid check
  • Brake fluid check
  • A lug bolt inspection

Every six months, or about 8,000-10,000 miles, your tune up should consist of the following:

  • An oil check
  • Tire depth check
  • Brake inspection
  • Spark plug wire check
  • Battery check
  • Brake fluid check
  • Power steering fluid check

Every 12,000-15,000 miles, or about nine months, the service check on your car should consist of the following:

  • A tire depth check
  • Brake inspection
  • Spark plug wire check
  • Power steering fluid check
  • Brake fluid check
  • Fuel pressure regulator inspection
  • Timing belt inspection

AAA claims to have roughly 29 million road side assistant calls a year. About 20 percent of calls had easy maintainable issues such as a dead battery. 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. Along with this, it’s important know where’s the closest, most trustworthy car repair facility near your campus.

What to Keep in Your Car

AAA recommends that before you leave home and head for campus, you should have equipment in your vehicle to prepare you for road side emergencies. That includes:

  • A well stocked first aid kit
  • Roadside emergency kit with content suitable for the weather
  • Bottled water
  • Tire pressure gauge to know when you for sure if you need to add more air to your tires
  • A screwdriver and other basic hand tools
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Non-perishable food
  • Snow brush
  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • Car jack
  • Phone book
  • Car charger
  • Extra batteries
  • A spare tire

You may not always need these individual tools, but it would be much worse to not be prepared in time of need, then to have them and not have to use them.

Know Your Campus

College campuses have different kinds of passes for their parking zones, which can get confusing and expensive. Plus, there’s only a small amount of unchecked meters and free parking spaces available. As a result, if you’re bringing your car to campus and don’t want to shell out your weeks wage in parking tickets, you should know where and when you can park while on campus.

Colleges are now getting tougher on parking tickets and uncollected parking debts. Campuses are now relying on high-tech equipment to scan parking lots for violators and many have enlisted the help of collection agencies to enforce debt collection. Inside High Ed reported that the University of Central Florida revealed they had a backlog of $379,000 for 10,600 citations and hired a collection agency to pursue violators. Thus far they have recovered $71,000.

Being on the know about the safest places to park will save you a lot of hassle and help keep money in your bank account. Additionally, it may seem like a lot of work to maintain your car, but equipping yourself with information on what you need to check and when can help you monetarily prepare for those tune-ups and oil changes.

Plus, you’ll be glad you won’t have call a tow truck or your parents because your battery died as you where trying to get home at 2 a.m. — even though you have a 9 a.m. class!


AAA's Car Care Lessons for the College Bound | AAA NewsRoom. (2013, July 17). AAA NewsRoom. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from AAA

How to Keep a Regular Maintenance Schedule For Your Car. (n.d.). Auto Repair. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from

Stripling, J. (2010, May 28). Debt Hunters @insidehighered. Debt Hunters @insidehighered. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from Inside Higher Ed