Whether your student is beginning college and commuting to class or taking online training while still living at home; learning how to maintain their own car can save them money and give you some peace of mind at the same time. Money can be really tight for university students and the most basic car maintenance can be worth it, even if it’s not a favorite activity. There’s no reason they should be paying a mechanic for something they can do themselves with a little guidance.
Check Oil Often
Regardless of the age of your student’s car, checking oil frequently is important. It may be seldom that they’ll actually need to add any oil. But being in the routine of checking oil often and knowing where the oil level is on the dipstick is cost-free preventive maintenance that doesn’t take much time. Knowing how much oil their car is using is a good way to make sure that they never have to shell out a big chunk of change on a blown engine due to insufficient engine oil.
A lot of students don’t change their oil when it’s time. Even though the old adage about changing your oil every three months or 3,000 miles is outdated for modern cars, regular oil and filter changes are just as important as they ever were. It’s handy to put a small sticker on the windshield at each oil change with the mileage at the time of oil change and the mileage for the next one. When it’s time for the oil change, a lot of students who haven’t been shown how are intimidated by the prospect.
While changing oil isn’t exactly fun, it will save them enough money that they’ll be able to appreciate it as a life skill. All they need is a wrench for the drain plug, filter, fresh oil, a pan to catch the old oil and a filter wrench. If you take the time to walk them through the process, there’s no reason they can’t learn to do it.
Checking Other Fluids
Giving your student a quick run-through of fluid levels they should be checking frequently is important as well. Transmission fluid should seldom have to be replenished if the transmissions is in good shape. A once-a-week look at the level should be good. During this once-a-week fluid check have them look at the coolant level and the windshield wiper fluid as well. Make sure your student has a quart of oil, some transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid and a jug of wiper fluid on hand.
Taking Care of Tires
Tire maintenance is often overlooked. Teaching your student to take care of their tires can prevent a lot of unnecessary tire wear and wasted fuel. Proper tire inflation plays a big part in this. Get your student a tire pressure gauge to keep in the car and show them how to check the air pressure. For maximum fuel efficiency and the best tire wear pattern, tires should be inflated to maximum recommended pounds per square inch. This will vary depending on the tire style and manufacturer, but 35 to 44 psi is becoming increasingly more common.
It’s not uncommon for valve stems to develop slow leaks. Checking air pressures at least once a week will let them know if they’re losing a little air.
One of the most neglected aspects of preventative tire maintenance is proper tire rotation. Make sure your student knows what the manufacturer recommends. This normally should be done every 10,000 miles. This isn’t something that your student will be able to do by themselves, but there’s some good news about tire rotation: Many places that sell tires offer free tire rotation for the life of the tires.