Believe it or not, it’s time for a little back to school car care. It might seem like summer started only yesterday, but fall is right around the corner. That makes now the perfect time to give your car some attention so it’s ready for the busy school year ahead. Whether you’re shuttling the kids around town or an older child is taking the car to college, here’s the back to school car care you should do now so you’re ready for fall.
After a busy summer, your car needs a good once over. Start by topping off the windshield washer fluid and checking the wiper blades to be sure there are no nicks or tears. You should also check the oil and change it if necessary, especially if your child is about to take the car to college.
Check to make sure all the lights are working. This includes headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and parking lights. Replace any lights that are burned out. It’s also the perfect time to change air and cabin filters that have collected plenty of summer dirt and dust.
Inspect the Tires
Summer road trips put a lot of miles on your tires. Check them now to be sure they’re ready for fall. First, confirm that they’re properly inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications and add extra air if necessary. Next, check for any signs of wear. Start by turning the steering wheel so you can see the full tire tread and then look for wear on the inner edge, outer edge, and middle for any odd wear patterns.
If you see any wear, then take the tires to be inspected by a professional. You might need to have your wheels aligned and the tires replaced. Finally, even if they don’t look worn, make sure the tread isn’t worn out using the penny trick. Insert a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of his head above the tread, then it’s time for new tires.
This back to school car care is especially important for kids who are heading off to college and might be tackling their first solo road trip. Make sure there’s a first aid kit in the car and that it’s well supplied with basic items like adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, scissors, and latex gloves.
It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit in case of any breakdowns. This should include jumper cables, road flares, reflectors, a flashlight with a fresh battery, and a tire pressure gauge. Make sure there’s a jack in the car for any unexpected tire changes and add a set of gloves and a blanket to stay warm through fall and winter.
Back to school car care is a quick and easy way to be sure you’re ready for fall. You can send your child off to college knowing they have everything they need and your days will be easier when all those school activities start.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on road trips, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.