If your recent high school graduate is headed off to college this fall with a used vehicle to use to get around in, you're probably feeling a mixture of emotions. Although it's hard to see them fly the coop, if you're like most parents, you're probably also bursting at the seams with pride. You may also be concerned about their safety -- so give yourself one less thing to worry about by ensuring that the car they take with them is in the best possible shape. Here's what you should do before they pull out of your driveway and head down the road toward fully fledged adulthood.
Change the Tires
Unless the vehicle has recently had brand new all-weather tires installed, you should change the tires before your child leaves for college. Unless the school is situated in an area with significant seasonal snowfall, standard all-weather tires are an excellent choice, and they won't have to be swapped out when seasons change.
Have the Brakes Inspected
Even if the brakes show no serious signs of needing mechanical attention, it's nonetheless a good idea to have them inspected before handing over the keys to your college-bound student. An experienced mechanic can often spot potential brake repair issues before they begin to make themselves known. For instance, if the brake pads are wearing thin, it's better to replace them before they're noticeably worn through. This is also a good time to have the brake fluid replaced.
Have the Oil Changed
Having the oil changed before your student leaves for college is a good idea because most vehicles require winter weight oil anyway, and it can be easy for this type of maintenance to slip a busy student's mind. Most vehicles require thinner oil in the winter months because oil thickens as a result of exposure to cold temperatures.
Have the Battery Tested
One of the last scenarios any parent wants to think about is their freshman college student stuck somewhere late at night because of a faulty battery, so ease your peace of mind by having it tested before they take off. Keep in mind that cold weather is rougher on a car's electrical system than mild seasonal temperatures, and one serious cold snap can render an older battery useless. If the battery has less than a 50 percent charge, it's better to err on the side of caution and have it replaced.