Keep a car at university? We’d wager you’re the envy of your peers. But while having a car as a student might sound like an amazing, life-enhancing luxury, taking care of one does have its pitfalls — from getting it through its pricey MOT, to making sure it doesn’t get pinched.
If you’re one of the minority of students to own a car whilst at uni, here are some simple and affordable tips on how to keep your beloved set of wheels safe and roadworthy during your stint as a student.
Learn How to Change a Tyre
For those strapped for cash and unwilling to shell out any of their precious loan on breakdown cover, it’s a good idea to get savvy with basic roadside fixes — like changing a tyre for instance. According to the AA, punctures are one of the most common roadside emergencies that their breakdown teams respond to, so save yourself the bother and learn how to change a tyre.
It might sound like the sort of job you’d normally leave to your dad, but changing a tyre is actually really straightforward. Of all the guides on how to do it on the net, we reckon this one is the easiest to follow.
Find a Trustworthy Mechanic
While we’d love to tell you all mechanics are trustworthy professionals not about to rip you off, we’d probably be lying. The good news is there’s a site that can help you sort the wheat from the chaff and choose a mechanic you can trust, and that’s The Good Garage Scheme. Based on your postcode and town name, this handy site lets you choose a garage that’s governed by a strict Code of Conduct, giving you the peace of mind to make an informed decision on the place that’s right for you.
Keep Your Fluids Topped Up
While we’d hate to state the obvious, cars need fluids to keep them ticking down the road. Neglect to check your engine’s fluid levels regularly, and you’ll find yourself in a whole world of trouble with a nasty repair bill looming. Thankfully, keeping tabs on your car’s fluids is quick, affordable and painless, and could help you avoid roadside breakdowns.
For a complete rundown of all the fluids to check on your car, and how to check them, take a look at this handy car care guide from Holts Auto.
Look After Your Tyres
After engine trouble, tyres are without doubt the most costly thing that can go wrong with your car, so it pays to keep them in tip top condition. One of the easiest ways to look after your rubber is to make sure they’re always inflated to right pressure, and so we’d recommend checking the PSI each time you top up your fuel tank. If left over or under inflated for a long period of time, uneven or premature tyre wear could develop — something often to blame for punctures and scary high-speed blowouts.
For more advice on how to look after your car tyres, we’d recommend casting your eye over this tyre care guide from Michelin.
Save Money on Fuel
Those who keep a car at university will likely need to scrimp and save more than most, given the costly overheads like insurance, tax and — worst of all — fuel. To help you stay in control of your finances, here are simple ways to curb your car’s fuel bill as a student.
• Oust Excess Weight: Carrying heavy items in your boot (or one too many mates) could see your fuel bill sky-rocket, so strip back to the bare essentials.
• Keep Rolling: When it’s safe to do so, it’s always better to keep your car rolling when approaching a junction or set of traffic lights, rather than come to a complete stop. Starting from stationary burns more fuel, so judge stopping decisions and try to keep rolling where you can.
• Slow Down: Did you know driving 10 mph over the speed limit burns 25% more fuel? Drive at 80 mph on the motorway for instance, and you’ll need to stop and fill up much sooner than you would at 70 mph.
• Change Up Early: Rather than labouring the engine between gear changes, experts believe changing up early can increase your fuel efficiency by around 15% — meaning more money in your pocket.
Whether you’ve a faithful old banger or a brand new motor, looking after a car at uni needn’t be pricey or risky. Good luck and happy driving.
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