September is here, and that means it’s time for college. If you’re the parent of a college-bound son or daughter, prepping the car is just as important as prepping the dorm room. Take a look at these five tips for getting your child’s car ready for college and beyond.


1. Tune up before you ship out.

A solid tune-up from your trusted mechanic is crucial. Not only does it provide you with peace of mind, it will highlight any issues that may need to be addressed before school starts.

At Rolf’s we’ll check every nook, cranny, hose, and belt to make sure the car will safely handle the journey to school… and those midnight taco runs.


2. Load up a gas card.

Not only is a gas card a thoughtful gift for your college student, it’s a practical one, too. It’s no secret that college kids are often low on cash and a gas card can come in clutch. You can load it up when school starts for the first semester and during the holidays for the second semester.


3. Purchase or compile an emergency kit.

This is a good tip for anyone—college student or not. Emergencies and accidents can happen anytime, so ensure your student is prepared with the following items.

  • Jumper cables.
  • Flares or triangle reflectors.
  • A quart or more of motor oil
  • A gallon of coolant
  • First-aid kit
  • Blanket or space blanket
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, pocket knife
  • A can of tire inflator and sealant such as Fix-a-Flat
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Paper towels
  • Spray bottle with washer fluid
  • Ice scraper
  • Pen and paper
  • Granola or energy bars
  • Bottled water


4. Check antifreeze and car treads

This one is simple, but important. Be sure to check and refill your antifreeze, if necessary. This is especially key before the colder temperatures set in, as it is helps keep the vehicle operating properly. Plus, the PH level of antifreeze turns acidic over time and can corrode your engine components. Fresh antifreeze can prevent this problem.

Tire treads are also key to staying safe in all driving conditions. Inspect the tires to make sure they’re wearing evenly. You can also do the “Lincoln Penny Test”; simply place a penny head first into tread grooves across the tire. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are too shallow and should be replaced.


5. Check (or replace) your battery.

Batteries are the unsung hero under the engine—and a component you don’t worry about until something goes wrong. If the vehicle’s battery is over 5 years old, consider preemptively replacing it. This will allow for optimum peace of mind, while enabling the car to continue driving smoothly during college and beyond.


Heading off to college is an exciting time. By taking just a few steps to prepare the car for the journey, you can ensure it’s a safe adventure for your child.