As students across the country begin to gear up for the new school year, planning their first day outfit and comparing schedules with their peers, the likelihood of them remembering to do their car’s routine maintenance is slim. To ensure that your teen driver’s back to school car care experience is a smooth one, we’ve compiled a quick list of items to check before the first class bell rings.
Are any indicator lights on? As you might have already guessed, indicator lights on the dashboard are there for an important reason—to indicate when there’s a problem with your car. If you happen to have an indicator light on, the likelihood of your car needing to be looked at is high. Don’t ignore them. In fact, you can use your handy-dandy owner’s manual to look up what they mean, so you can take it to the shop and knowledgably tell the mechanic what the light means!
Have you looked under the hood recently? If you don’t already know how, ask your parents to show you have to check fluid levels, like engine oil, coolant, and transmission fluids. Also, check the battery to make sure the cables and terminal posts are in tip-top shape. This will ensure you won’t get stuck at school with a car that won’t start.
Is your engine making a strange noise? While the hood is up, start the car, turn on the fans, and listen. If there are strange noises coming out of your engine, it’s time to take a trip to the mechanic shop. Also, be sure to check your brakes. If they feel spongy or squeal, it could be time to replace your brake pads.
Did your tires pass the honest Abe test? There’s a simple test to see how old your tires are—the Abe test. Grab a penny and place it into your tire’s grove. If you can see Abe’s entire head, your tires are worn out and need to be replaced. While you’re doing this test, make sure you also check the tire pressure in all four tires with a tire gauge. Inflate them if needed.
Does the garage floor have stains on it from your vehicle? Look around on the garage floor or the ground where your car is normally parked. Do you see any oil or antifreeze around? If so, that’s normally a sign of a leaking problem. Take your car in for its checkup to ensure this problem gets fixed.
Is the car interior messy? There are two reasons why you shouldn’t leave your car in a messy state. Not only does garbage, like an empty soda bottle, increase the likelihood of something lodging under the brake or gas pedal, impeding your ability to drive, but leaving valuables in sight also increases the risk for car break-ins. Keep your car clean and the risks are minimal.
After you complete this back to school car care checklist and are still concerned with something, make sure you bring your car in to the mechanics before the first day of school. We promise, it will make your school year that much easier.