Save Money, Be Car Smart

red car next to field

So, you’ve just arrived for your first year of college. You quickly learn that there is a lot to worry about now. Tests, papers, your financial status, and your car. “Wait, I have to worry about my car too?” Yes, you do! Flat tires, dead batteries, broken belts, oil changes, and much more can cause you major headaches and throw you deeper into financial trouble. So how do you avoid this? Well, the solution is to be Car Smart! Here are a few pointers to make you Car Smart while at college and hopefully through life!


1. Flat Tires
Flat tires are nightmares. Being late to an appointment because of a flat tire is a lot more common than you think. Here are five tips to keep your tires fresh:

1. Check tire pressure: It’s simple. All you need is a pencil-sized tire pressure gauge that costs about $2 from Walmart or any auto store. Simply remove the screw cap from the valve stem that protrudes from the rim, then push the open end of the pressure gauge on the valve and read the psi amount. If you don’t know what your tire pressure is supposed to be at then look on the driver’s side door frame for a sticker that has the information on it.
2. Check tread depth: All tires have tread wear indicators. These are slightly raised rubber parts that should be below the top of the tread. If your tire's tread is level with the wear indicator, then it is time to change it!
3. Visually inspect the tires: Look for dry rot (cracks in the tire), nails, bulges, and uneven wear. Any of these could lead to a flat tire.
4. Don’t drive on a flat: Driving on a flat tire might be tempting if you’re really late to something. Resist the urge! Driving on flats can lead to possible further damage to the car and some costly repairs. It’s also very unsafe.
5. Change for the spare: Don’t waste your money or time by calling a tow truck. Changing a tire is actually pretty simple. Here is a quick how-to video.


2. Oil Change
An oil change is an important part of the regular maintenance that keeps your vehicle healthy! For most cars, it is recommended to change the oil every 5,000 miles. Avoid going over this limit because it can be extremely damaging to your car if you do! Avoid getting your oil changed at “cheaper” places such as Valvoline. Stick with an auto shop that has certified mechanics. Remember, the cheaper you go, the higher the risk!


3. Check Your Fluids
Checking your fluids is another simple task. Simply pop your hood and look for the dipstick with the yellow handle. This dipstick is how you check your oil level and color. The end of the stick will have indications on it. If the fluid is within the indicators, then you’re good!


4. Take the Auto Maintenance Class
Tech-164-A is a great 2 credits! The class only meets once a week for lecture and a very hands-on lab. In this class, you’ll learn how to change your own oil, brakes, tires, and much more! This is a very fun class that I highly recommend!

Lastly, there is an auto shop on campus that has the best prices locally. It’s located behind Summerour Hall (education and psychology department) on Colcord Dr., previously known as Industrial Dr. Here, students and faculty work together in a great learning environment. Remember, be Car Smart and you’ll have one less thing to worry about!

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Kyle Raymond is a junior Auto Service Management major. Here he is in Nicaragua on an automotive mission trip.

Young man in mechanics outfit 

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Kyle Raymond Story by Kyle Raymond Published: Last Edited:

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