Between packing your bags and shopping for school supplies, it’s easy to forget about what you’ll be relying on to get to class, your car. We’ve created a checklist you can follow to make sure your car is as prepared as you are to head back to school.
How’s your Tire Pressure?
You can find the recommended psi for your tires on a sticker, in the door jamb, or in your owner’s manual. Keeping your tires inflated will give you better gas mileage and less likely you’ll get a flat, which could make you late for class, or worse, a midterm!
Most gas stations will have an air pump you can use to fill your tires. Some of these may or may not have a working tire gauge, so owning a one can come in handy. Then you can check your tire pressure wherever you are.
Check & Fill Fluids
Can’t remember the last time you changed the oil? Now is a great time to check. You want to find level ground and be sure the engine is off and cold. Then remove the oil dipstick. Clean it off and reinsert it. Then remove it again. This time, check the level by noting where the oil is on the dipstick. If it’s closer to the end or add line, add the correct oil for your vehicle accordingly by unscrewing the cap on the engine. If the oil looks black and feels coarse, it’s probably time for an oil change.
Change your Windshield Wiper Blades
Driving with old windshield wipers can be dangerous. If your wipers squeak or leave streaks in the windshield, it’s time to replace them. Luckily this is a very easy repair and should only take a few minutes.
Check All Lights: Headlights, Taillights, Brake Lights & Blinkers
Asking for help will make this job quick and easy. Have someone stand outside your car and indicate when the lights you are testing are on. Turn your car on and have them verify if your parking lights are on. Then shift into drive and see if the tail lights and headlights are on. Then hit the brakes to see if the brake lights are on. You also need to check your right and left directional lights, or blinkers, are working in the front and in the rear of your vehicle.
If you haven’t replaced your headlights in a long time, they may be emitting low light. Cleaning or replacing them is an easy way to fix this.
Check your Brakes
Obvious signs your brakes need to be replaced include squeaking, screeching, or scraping, a brake pedal that reaches the floor when applied, or pulsation when pressing the brakes.
You can also check the brake pad life by looking at the pad thickness. At the very least there should be ¼” of brake pad material. It’s a good idea to have them inspected if you’re unsure of your remaining brake pad life. This will give you an estimate of how long you have until you need to change your brakes and what condition they’re in.
Change your Air Filter
The air filter is usually easy to check. Just undo the clips on the air box, and remove the filter to see its condition. If the filter looks dark from dust, dirt, and debris, it might need to be replaced. A new air filter will be white or off-white. Replacing the air filter can increase your gas mileage and give your engine better air flow.
Clean the Interior
Lastly, cleaning the inside of your car is always a good idea. It makes your car look and feel fresh, and it keeps dirt from ruining the interior’s condition. It is also a safety precaution, believe it or not. Unless you’ve been in an accident, you might not think about the possible dangers of the random objects inside your car flying around your head. Take a few minutes and remove everything that doesn’t need to be in your car.