One of the most important, yet commonly overlooked, things that should make the back to school checklist for anyone over the age of 16 who uses a vehicle as their main source of transportation is auto maintenance and repair. A reliable vehicle is crucial as you’ll need to know that you can get to class, work, activities and whatever else you have packed into your day on time and without any additional stress or distractions.
There are several different scenarios that students commonly are in when it comes to a used vehicle at the start of the school year:
1) You’re purchasing a used vehicle for yourself or your children; 2) You’ve owned your vehicle for a while and you’re going to stay in the town you live in and are familiar with; and 3) You’ve owned your vehicle for a while but you are travelling to a new city to attend school.
Rick Quistad, owner of Jones Automotive, offers key points of advice for each scenario:
• If you’re purchasing a vehicle for yourself or for your son/daughter, take any pre-owned vehicle you are interested in to a mechanic that you know and trust to have them look it over prior to making the commitment to buy. This inspection will ensure that you have the information to make an educated buy, including whether it’s in sound mechanical shape or pinpointing what will services/repairs need to be done and how much it will cost so that you’re prepared if you choose to move forward.
• If you’ve owned your vehicle, chances are you know the maintenance schedule so if anything is overdue, make sure to get it done before your schedule gets jam-packed and it gets put off to the wayside.
• If you already own your vehicle and are going out of town for school, get it into the shop for a general check-over before you hit the road. This includes making sure that everything is working as it’s supposed to, or recommendations for repair and maintenance as needed so there are no surprises when you get where you’re going. Also, it’s equally important to find a referral to a mechanic in the town you will be living. If you’re current mechanic or someone you trust isn’t able to make a recommendation, jump on Angie’s List so you have an idea of where to take your vehicle in case of emergency or for intermediate services once you get to your destination.
Charley Olson, owner of the Meineke Car Care Center located at 3322 Leavenworth St. and 4839 N. 90th St. in Omaha, further advises, “As far as maintenance, an oil change is generally at the top of the list. During this service, all of the main checkpoints will also be assessed and we can go over the maintenance items that should be done as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. The vehicle’s fluids, tires, brakes and suspension are generally the key items that are most affected by frequent use and need to be assessed regularly to ensure your safety as well as the longevity of your vehicle.”
Another two key components that are crucial to your safety when it comes to visibility but often get overlooked are your windshield and headlights. “The windshield was designed to provide safe-driving vision that is free of distractions,” emphasizes Boyd Baillie, owner of SuperGlass Windshield Repair of Nebraska. “In order to have a safer driving experience, make sure that you repair any rock chips and cracks on your windshield. You’ll want to choose a repair company that is committed to providing the best repair possible. SuperGlass Windshield Repair has built a great reputation for high quality auto glass repair services and products. We are constantly testing and developing new resins and technology that allows SuperGlass to remain the quality leader in windshield repair worldwide. Furthermore, as a car ages, so do its headlights, which is also a safety issue. The modern headlight lens is made of acrylic. A weakness of acrylic is its tendency to break down and deteriorate due to contact with cleaning solvents and exposure to UV rays, causing the headlight to be dimmer and less effective. The SuperGlass Headlight Restoration system removes the opaque and yellowed surface of the acrylic and restores clarity of your headlights to like-new condition.”
So for everyone who is headed back to school, or whose kids will be, make sure to set that appointment with a local automotive professional if you haven’t already. Along with avoiding any costly or dangerous issues in the future, you’ll have the peace of mind that will allow you to focus on the myriad of important things going on during the school year instead of getting stuck dealing with a stressful vehicle debacle.