Be­fore send­ing loved ones away to col­lege, make sure they know the ve­hic­u­lar ba­sics

Calgary Herald - - DRIVING - BRIAN TURNER Driv­

There’s al­ways an in­crease in the home trep­i­da­tion level at this time of year, when post-sec­ondary stu­dents are head­ing away from home to at­tend univer­sity or col­lege.

A whole new set of wor­ries crops up when these nest de­par­tures in­volve a ve­hi­cle sup­ply­ing the wings for our nestlings. Par­ents and guardians have dreaded ex­pec­ta­tions of that call when a des­per­ate stu­dent phones with an auto-break­down hor­ror story.

No mat­ter how care­fully we re­search and se­lect the right ve­hi­cle, they all take proper main­te­nance to safely and re­li­ably func­tion on the road. And as the great ma­jor­ity of those lucky ones to have wheels un­der­neath them are driv­ing pre-owned rides, mak­ing sure your young driver knows some auto main­te­nance ba­sics can mean the difference be­tween sleep­less nights and peace of mind.

If you don’t have all the an­swers to pro­vide solid ad­vice on every topic, en­list some help. Flu­ids: Any­one who drives should be able to pop the hood and iden­tify all the vi­tal fluid check and fill points and how of­ten they should be ver­i­fied and topped off if needed. De­pend­ing on the age and mileage of a par­tic­u­lar auto, do­ing this short, easy task every one to two months or so isn’t overkill.

Make sure the driver knows what type of fluid is needed for each ap­pli­ca­tion. Adding the wrong sub­stance is one of the most com­mon er­rors driv­ers make. If the ve­hi­cle doesn’t have an owner’s man­ual, get one, and tab the main­te­nance ref­er­ence pages.

Bulbs: Ve­hi­cle light­ing sys­tems are crit­i­cal for safe driv­ing, and bulbs are sub­ject to fail­ure without warn­ing. Young (and old) driv­ers should check all lights on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and know how to ac­cess and re­place com­mon bulbs. Some au­tomak­ers list bulb re­place­ment specs in the glove­box ma­te­ri­als and some do not. It’s easy and cheap enough to stow a cou­ple of com­mon bulbs in a road­side emer­gency kit.

Flat tires: Road­side ser­vice sub­scrip­tions (and they ’re a great idea) aside, know­ing how to safely jack up a ve­hi­cle and change a flat tire can be in­valu­able when it comes to get­ting out of a late-night re­mote­site problem. Of course, this first en­tails a cau­tious as­sess­ment of any en­vi­ron­men­tal risks to per­sonal safety. Some­times it’s best to wait for an emer­gency ser­vice.

Wiper blades: Easy enough, right? Most of us can han­dle this DIY task, but if you have never re­placed a wiper blade be­fore, hav­ing some­one show you how can save a lot of time and skinned knuck­les.

Find­ing a rep­utable re­pair shop: Stu­dent or ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­ity re­sources can help with sug­ges­tions, as can neigh­bours and re­tail­ers.


Every young person should know at least a few things about their car be­fore they leave for school.

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