We hate to remind you, but school is starting again soon. Are you sending a son or daughter off to college with a car? Or driving to and from high school? Is your carpool schedule starting up, with your kids in the car, plus a few extras? Make sure you have our Back-to-School checklist for your vehicle completed as part of your school preparation this year, you’ll be glad you did!
Just a reminder to make sure all maintenance and safety items are checked and ready to go. Look over this checklist and make sure your (or your child’s) car is ready to go!
Here’s a vehicle checklist for Back-to-School.
- Check your oil level and condition. You have heard it before, but we all need a little reminder to keep up the maintenance on our cars (myself included!) This is the most basic maintenance item to check off – if you would like Honest Accurate Auto Service to check your oil, stop in anytime for a complimentary oil check. If you it let go too long, having little to no oil can cause extreme engine damage (often requiring total engine replacement!). All cars need adequate oil to keep moving parts lubricated and to keep engine friction to a minimum, so keep up on your oil changes!
- Headlights and brake lights. Be sure your lights are operational – brake lights that are burned out are a ticketable offense. For safety, you need to be able to see and be seen. We will always check lights with every maintenance service, including our oil change service.
- Brakes. Do they stop your car quickly and immediately? Are you hearing any grinding during braking? Brake pads or shoes (and the rotors or drums that they press against) are a “wear” item and are intended to be replaced when they become thin. Extremely hard brake pads may last a long time, but they can be squeaky and noisy and could wear drums and warp rotors prematurely. Brake pads should be replaced, and rotors machined, periodically to keep them wearing evenly and braking smoothly. Make sure you have them checked by an expert auto technician.
- Tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road. Will they provide the traction you need to corner and stop in rain or slick road conditions, and are they appropriate for the road conditions where you or your student will be driving? Check the tread with a penny – can you see Lincoln’s head when you put the penny in the tread (head down)? If you can see all of his head, your tread is less than 2/32” and the tire should be replaced. Check for correct tire pressure – again, if you would like us to do a complimentary tire pressure check, just stop by anytime!
- Check your windshield wiper fluid. Visibility is vital to driving safety – be sure you are able to clean your windshield quickly if you are hit by a big bug or run into dust or (oh no!) snow.
- Fluid levels and condition. Coolant and transmission fluid keeps your engine and transmission cool and lubricated. Levels should be checked periodically to make sure there is adequate fluid with no leaks in the system. Coolant should be changed every 50-100,000 miles (or every 4-5 years). Transmission fluid should be flushed and filled every 40-60,000 miles (please check your Owner’s Manual for recommendations specific to your vehicle). Brake and power steering fluids should also be monitored and topped off or changed as needed.
- Test and clean the battery. Is the battery adequate to start your vehicle consistently, and run all of the electrical systems on your car? Batteries may need to be replaced every 3-5 years, and offer little to no warning that they are failing. Check the date of the battery (located on top). Corrosion should periodically be cleaned off battery posts and cables to maintain amperage level and a good electrical ground.
- Proof of insurance. Make sure your student has the current auto insurance card inside the vehicle or in their wallet or purse. You may want to add Roadside Assistance to the policy if they will be going to college out of town. It can usually be added to any policy for $5.00 or less a month.
- Emergency kit for the car. Get one inside the vehicle if you don’t already have one. Find one with a set of jumper cables included in case a battery fails. Many kits also include instructions printed on the bag for the cables. Or if you have a kit already, be sure that it is updated with any medication, and other first-aid items that may have been used previously. Be sure it is well stocked and with items needed for the part of the country you or your student will be taking the vehicle.
- Jack and spare tire. Be sure they are in the vehicle and the spare is in good shape. You don’t want to need either and find them missing if you have a flat tire.
If you have any questions about these back-to-school vehicle checklist, please be sure to give us a call. We are happy to help you and your vehicle prepare for back-to-school. If you have a student in the Colorado Springs area, in high school or college, you should ask about our free educational automotive classes. Our next class is coming this fall!
Being proactive with your car maintenance keeps you and your car happy, off the side of the road, and gets you and your family to school safely and on time! We’d like to help you with your checklist, see our Back-to-School Special that includes most of these items at a $50 savings for you! Back-to-School Specials