Unauthorized Advice – A call for car care

It’s always struck me as odd that, despite spirited attempts to dissuade people from drinking and driving, texting while driving, poor road manners — the usual suspects — no one ever brings up how important it is to actually keep one’s car roadworthy.

I get it. When merging is impossible because the jerk in the Honda next to you suddenly feels like racing to the next stoplight, the last thing on one’s mind is whether or not the tires are properly aired.

It might not seem like it, but a poorly maintained car can be just as hazardous to your commute as Mr. Screamin’ VTEC hogging the righthand lane.

Tires that are low on air can make a car’s handling unstable, and tires with the tread worn off can’t grip the road. Worn-out brake pads or low brake fluid can get you into an accident, and having low oil or coolant can damage your engine.

We’re college students, we don’t have our degrees and six-figure jobs just yet. Not keeping your car in good mechanical condition can have expensive consequences, too.

So, what can students do?

Well, not many people can do serious mechanical work on their own car, but learning about the different fluids and how to replace them is a great DIY activity that can increase its longevity.

And when something big does come up, it’s better to get help sooner rather than later.

Schedule trips to a mechanic. It’s relatively cheap to get an oil change or patch a leaking tire.

Get your coolant and brake fluid topped off. Maybe take that decrepit old Malibu to get that busted headlight replaced. Lord knows nighttime visibility is always nice.

Cars represent a large part of the newfound freedom and responsibility students come into as they transition into adulthood. Just as we place so much value on getting a license and our own car, we should place that same importance on keeping them on the road and running smoothly.