Every year, parents watch their college-bound children drive away for the semester, which can be a nerve-racking experience. Give yourself some peace of mind by teaching your student how to perform simple vehicle upkeep and talk to them about practicing safe driving.

One of the easiest ways to prevent breakdowns and save money on repairs is by performing regular, basic maintenance. The following checklist may come in handy to help educate your teenager about vehicle care before they head out to orientation week:

  • Check tire pressure at least once a month. Be sure to teach your college student how to check the tire pressure and how to fill tires if they are low. Low tire pressure reduces fuel economy and can unevenly wear tire tread. The vehicle owner’s manual and the inside of the driver’s door should list the ideal pressure for their tires.
  • Change the oil and filter regularly. Regular oil changes are one of the most important things a driver can do to keep their vehicle in tip-top shape. Failure to maintain oil and switch out filters can eventually lead to engine damage. Review the owner's manual with your teenager to find out their vehicle's ideal maintenance schedule. And here's a helpful tool to find the right lubricant for their vehicle.
  • Check the fluids. Your student doesn’t need to be a mechanic to check their vehicle’s fluids and identify potential problems. Take some time to learn about different fluids, how to check them and what signs may indicate an issue.
  • Check the wiper blades. Changing wiper blades when they get worn is an easy and inexpensive fix at home. Teach your student how to choose wiper blades for their vehicle and how to replace them if they are not working efficiently.
  • Use a high-quality fuel. Not all gasoline is created equal. Using a quality gasoline like Cenex® TOP TIER™ Detergent Gasoline can increase a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and reduce engine deposits, giving you and them more worry-free miles on the road.

In addition to the maintenance checklist, here are some safe driving best practices to help students prepare for issues that can be predicted. It might also be helpful to review how to change a tire, jump-start a dead battery and what to do if they are in an accident.

  • Travel with a charged cell phone.
  • Park in well-lit areas and near building entrances.
  • Don’t talk on the phone or text while driving.
  • Always wear a seat belt and make passengers wear them as well.
  • Lock the doors and give your son or daughter an extra set of keys in case they lose them.
  • Carry an emergency roadside service kit.

After reviewing these safety tips with your student, be sure to send them off with a  Cenex® gift card to keep their tank full while they’re away from home.

Photo courtesy of FLICKR user Kevin.
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