Modern vehicles are much more reliable than many cars made in the past. While it used to be rare for automobiles to stay on the road for much past 100,000 miles, today’s cars routinely make it to the 200,000 mile mark and often last much longer. But even modern vehicles need regular maintenance to keep them running at their best. College commuters who use their own car know how much a breakdown can set them back in repair expenses and time and it only takes a few minutes to make certain everything is property operating.
Keeping engine oil changed at the recommended intervals and making certain it is topped off between changes is the most important single step to keeping a vehicle running reliably. Engine oil lubricates pistons, rings, valves, and the crankshaft to prevent wear while also carrying away contaminants and helping to keep the engine cool. Engine oil levels should be checked at least weekly and oil should be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendation listed in the vehicle’s owner manual.
When you have the hood up to check the oil, you should also take the time to look the engine over for any apparent problems. Cooling hoses that have cracks or bulges need to be checked out by a mechanic and will likely need to be replaced. The engine belt, or belts, should also be inspected. Belts that have missing pieces, cracks, or a shiny, glazed appearance need to be replaced. Leaks of oil, coolant, or other fluids seen on or around the engine should also be checked out by a mechanic. You can often buy your own parts at places like Arnold Motor Supply for less than you would at the dealer and save some cash.
One of the most commonly overlooked parts of regular maintenance is a check of safety features. Keeping the windshield and all other windows clean, along with the headlights, taillights, and other indicator lights is important for safe operation of any vehicle. The lights should also be periodically checked for proper operation. Windshield wiper blades should be cleaned to remove dirt and debris and replaced when worn out. Tires should also be inspected for proper inflation or other problems. Tires will likely need to be replaced if they show deep cracking in the sidewall, bulges, or have less than 1/16 of an inch of tread.
College students who routinely use their vehicle for commuting should be aware of any changes that the car may exhibit while driving. By having new sounds, vibrations, or other problems checked out, and completing regular maintenance, a student can expect to get many years of safe and reliable service from a vehicle and a safe commute every day.