Yes! You made it through the freshman year, and your college is now going to allow you to bring a car to campus.
Now you can fight for the limited number of parking spaces along with the other college students.
On the plus side, you can also be the popular kid and drive all of the other kids around.
Before you bring your car to campus, here are some safety and maintenance tips to help get the most of your new-found freedom!
Call me cynical, but theft is a massive problem on college campuses. Thieves know that college kids are naive and trusting, and they take advantage of that.
Most thefts occur after a thief has tried the door handle of the car. If it is open, they’ll pillage it. If not, they will move on to try the next door handle.
Becoming disciplined about keeping your doors locked will go a long way to prevent break-ins.
There are two other things you can do that will greatly deter thieves. The first thing is to keep a clean car. If they don’t see backpacks and gym bags, then they know that that there is a high probability that the car isn’t going to be rewarding to break into.
However, if you leave your iPad in the passenger seat, then they might just break out a window to try to get it. That is a clear target with a clear reward for their crime.
The other thing you can do is invest in a locking bar for your steering wheel. These steering wheel locks make it clear that you prioritize anti-theft measures and that breaking into your car won’t likely be worth the hassle.
Prepare For Bad Weather
Unlike when you lived at home, you need to be ready for things to go wrong in all types of weather. You can’t just call dad and have him rescue you. A fresh oil change and good tires are essential when the weather goes bad.
At a minimum, make sure that you have a blanket to help keep you and your college buddies warm in the event the car stalls in the snow. A set of reflectors is a good idea as well to increase your visibility as you wait on the side of the road for help.
An investment in a roadside assistance service will pay itself back in spades whether in helping you retrieve your car keys or in rescuing you on the side of the road when the car breaks down.
If you are one of those handy, do-it-yourself types of people, then look at getting an impact wrench (tooltally.com/best-air-impact-wrench/) and some basic tools to carry in your trunk. This will help you swap tires and do basic repairs and get yourself back on the road more quickly.
The side of the road is a dangerous place to be, and you will want to minimize the amount of time that you have to be there. If your car dies, be sure to pull it all the way off the road with at least one set of tires on the grass.
Have A Maintenance Plan
With all of the school requirements that you have to be worried about, your vehicle’s maintenance is likely one of the last things to think of.
You’ll want to set reminders on your calendar and find a way to get your car in for basic repairs every three months. Even if you just rotate the tires, check your battery level, and get the oil changed, you will find that most of the common breakdowns can be avoided.
If you aren’t employed, go ahead and talk to your parents about how to afford these repairs. This is one of those areas where a few dollars of prevention can save you thousands of dollars.
Get A Bike
Parking on campus is horrible. There is absolutely no good way to get around on campus with a car. Most students walk from place to place.
One of the best things you can do is to buy a used bike on Craigslist. Get something that you won’t cry over if it gets stolen.
A bike not only makes it easier to get around on campus but will also make it easier for basic shopping and for going to coffee shops and restaurants near the school.
A good bike can dramatically improve your quality of life on campus.
Check On Your Car
If you are taking a full load of school work, then you might be surprised at how little you drive your car. If you have a busy weekend, then it might be two weeks before you go to your car.
Check-in on your car frequently. If it has been broken into or stolen, you want to know about that in a timely manner. Once you learn the rhythm of your parking lots, you might figure out that there is a time when your lots are mostly empty.
While the rest of the students are partying on a Friday night, you can take advantage of the empty lot to move your car closer to the dorms.
Keeping your car close will help improve its safety while also making it easier to access.
Don’t Get Distracted
Having a car is a true privilege while on campus. Most colleges will not allow you to have a car on campus until you have passed your freshman year with good grades.
Don’t let the car be a distraction to you. Use it only when needed for your grocery shopping and to get to a job. As much as possible, you need to stay on campus and stay focused.
While your peers will argue that “you only get to be young once,” what they are missing is that this is the only time in your life that you can prepare for a career while being fully focused. From here on out you will likely have a significant other and children to distract you.
Seize this moment, and use the car to help you get better grades.