Is Your Car Ready For College? CarMD Shares Money-Saving Maintenance Tips For College-bound Drivers

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CarMD.com Corporation shares tips to help parents and young drivers make sure the college-bound student's car or truck is financially and mechanically ready to leave home

College is hard enough, and expensive enough without having to worry about car trouble.

Whether you’re heading a few hundred miles away or traveling cross-country for higher education, it’s important to make sure your car is ready for college. As back to school season gets under way, CarMD.com Corporation today announced smart measures to help college students and their parents get that ride ready for college.

“With all of the other stresses of heading away to school, the last thing a college-bound student needs is car trouble, and an expensive car repair surprise for the parents,” said Art Jacobsen, CarMD’s director of business development. “Our goal is to empower young adults and their parents with the tools and information you need to catch problems early so you can spend money on books, housing and fun instead of expensive repairs due to neglect.”

A recipient of a prestigious 2010 Edison Best Product Award, the CarMD® Vehicle Health System provides consumers with the tools and information needed to help make educated decisions about their vehicles’ health and maintenance. The CarMD handheld device plugs into the computer of all 1996 and newer vehicles through an easy-to-access port (usually found right under the steering column). In less than a minute, CarMD will let you know if the car has any hidden problems by displaying a red or yellow light, or provide peace of mind with a green light. When a problem is found, the CarMD device plugs into a Mac or PC computer to generate a report that explains what’s wrong, what it will take to fix it, how much repairs should fairly cost and if there are any related technical service bulletins or safety recalls.

CarMD’s Tips For College-bound Drivers

CarMD’s Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) technicians have provided these tips to help college-bound students and their parents get your car or truck ready to head off to college:

  • Get a Tune-up – Before you pack up and head off to college, it’s a smart idea to schedule a tune-up for your car. It should include an oil change, fuel and air filter replacement, valve adjustment, spark plug inspection and replacement, tire rotation and balance, fluid top-off and visual inspection. If you have a trusted family mechanic or favorite repair shop, it’s a good idea to ask if they have a referral to a shop in the town where you will be attending school. You’re better off following a scheduled maintenance program and spending $100 on a simple tune-up now than getting saddled with an expensive bill that costs more than the semester’s tuition later.
  • Replace Old Parts – Conduct a visual inspection of everything from brakes to belts, and replace worn parts. Hoses can become dry and brittle, especially in harsh climates. Be sure to replace belts if they are showing any signs of cracks, leaks or blistering. Turn your ignition key forward but don’t start the car. All of the dashboard warning lights should come on. Make sure the bulbs are there and everything lights up. Also check turn signals, headlamp and brake lights. The battery charge should also be checked for charge and replaced if you’ve experienced frequent slow starts or if it’s more than three or four years old. Tires should be replaced if they’re down to 2/32” tread, or show visible signs of wear and tear or balding. If brakes are squealing or taking a while to slow the vehicle down, you may need new brake pads. They can often be replaced for under $100, which is much cheaper than a complete brake job. Be sure to reference the vehicle’s service manual for a list of all parts to inspect and recommended replacement intervals.
  • Change your wiper blades – You’re probably thinking... but it’s not raining! Changing your wiper blades is one of the best things you can do to help ensure your safety, and it’s easy to do. The right time to change the wiper blades is NOT during a downpour when you cannot see three feet in front of you and need to get to class for a final exam. Or worse yet during a snowstorm. Invest in some nice wiper blades to keep your windshield clear during rain and snow. There are enough other things competing for your attention while you are driving and struggling to see out your front windshield should not be one of them. Windshield wiper blades only cost about $20 for a set and can help a young driver avoid an accident by seeing something a split second sooner.    
  • Pack an Emergency Tool Kit – Chances are everything the college-bound student has ever needed to repair the car has been right there in mom and dad’s garage. Now that he or she is heading away from home, they’ll need a set of tools and emergency items for quick car repairs. Be sure the kit includes: a flash light with extra batteries, tow rope, first aid kit, flares, a tire jack and spare tire. It’s also a good idea to have an assortment of tools such as a lug wrench, hammer, standard and Phillips screwdrivers and adjustable wrench. Extra paper towels and window washer fluid are good to have. And duct tape can be useful to temporarily hold a mirror in place, cover a hole in a hose or patch a broken window. Jumper cables are also a must to have and know how to use. No one wants to be in a parking structure after a late night class with a car that won’t start.
  • Tuck CarMD in the Glovebox – The CarMD handheld device can provide peace of mind before you head out on that drive away from home. It’s also a good idea to run a CarMD quick check every semester or so to make sure your vehicle doesn’t have any hidden problems lurking under the hood. “I have a 24 hour drive between where I live and where I go to school; when I plug in my CarMD and get the green light, I know I’m good to go,” says Joanna R., college student. If that dreaded “check engine” light does appear, CarMD also helps diagnose problems and even estimates what parts and labor should fairly cost in the college town you’re in. That way, you have a second opinion so that you don’t end up paying more than you have to at the repair shop.
  • Update Your Address – Be sure to alert your automotive manufacture, insurance and roadside assistance carriers of your new locale, and check to see if there are any added fees or discounts for the new address. It’s particularly important to alert your dealership and manufacturer of your new address so they notify you of any important safety recalls. Catching known problems and recalls early can often lead to low- or no-cost repairs.

Regardless of whether you’ve chosen a college that’s hundreds of miles away or closer to home, it’s a smart financial decision to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. College is hard enough, and expensive enough, without having to worry about car trouble.

About CarMD.com Corp.
The mission of Fountain Valley, Calif.-based CarMD.com Corp., is to empower consumers and the vehicle market by providing the tools and information needed to make better-educated decisions about their vehicles’ health and maintenance. Distributed by CarMD.com Corp., CarMD is priced at $98.99 and is available in the U.S. direct to consumers at http://www.CarMD.com. The product is supported Monday – Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Pacific Time) by live Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified technicians based in the U.S.A.

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KRISTIN BROCOFF

Jessica Beffa
Thatcher + Co.
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