AAA Offers Tips for College Bound Teens and Their Vehicles

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VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (August 8, 2014) – Preparing college-bound teens for life away from home can be an anxious and task-filled time. While parents will be reminding their teens about proper diet, laundry and personal safety, they too frequently forget the important subject of car care before sending their teen and vehicle off to college. “For many young adults, this is the first time they must take care of a car on their own,” said Georjeane Blumling, spokesperson for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “As a source for automotive information, AAA wants to help parents ensure their teens know how to complete basic safety checks on the vehicle.” Before heading off to college, AAA encourages parents to review four main areas for properly maintaining a vehicle and preparing for the unexpected.

Check and Maintain Tires

Remember, the four small points where the rubber meets the road are the only things that stand between teens and a crash.

  • Parents should make sure their teens have a tire pressure gauge in their vehicle.
  • Explain that tires should be checked at least once a month when the tires are cold.
  • Show teens where to find the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, usually located on a label on the driver’s door jamb or in the glove box.
  • Take teens to a gas station that provides an air pump and let them practice adding air to their tires so they are familiar with how it’s done.
  • Remind teens to also check the pressure in the spare tire as well as the four tires on the vehicle.
  • Explain what to look for when examining the tread of their tires such as nails stuck in the tire or bulges that would signal the need for a replacement.
  • Demonstrate how to check tire tread depth by inserting a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If they can see above Washington’s head anywhere they check on the tire, it’s time to start shopping for new tires.

Know the Maintenance Schedule

Performing the manufacturer’s regularly scheduled maintenance on a vehicle will greatly extend the life of the vehicle and ward off costly repairs down the road. While it’s a good idea to make sure their teens’ car is current with all maintenance items prior to sending them off to college, it is possible some items will come up while they are away.

  • Make sure the owner’s manual is in the glove box of the vehicle.
  • Explain the recommended maintenance schedule outlined in the owner’s manual such as the fluids.
  • Make the teen aware of what their current mileage is and at what mileage mark it’s time to perform maintenance again.

Find a Repair Facility near College

Depending on how frequently teens return home or how far away their college is located, they might be able to have regular maintenance performed at their families’ usual auto repair shop. However, even if this is the case, it’s important for parents to help teens identify an auto repair shop they can trust near their school in case an unexpected repair is needed.

  • If unfamiliar with the area around the college, look for a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility or a AAA Car Care Center. As a public service for all motorists, AAA inspects auto repair shops around the country and only approves those that meet and continually maintain high professional standards for equipment, customer service, cleanliness and training. To search for a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop nearby, visit
  • If possible, parents should accompany their teen to the shop while they are in town. Allow the teens to be introduced to the shop owner and/or management so they will be more comfortable with them should they need to return there with a repair emergency.

Prepare for Roadside Emergencies

It’s important for parents to prepare their teens for a breakdown or other roadside emergency, especially if they are attending college too far away to ‘call home’ for help.

  • Provide teens with a membership with a motor club that provides reliable roadside assistance, such as AAA. When selecting a motor club, be sure to choose one that will not expect motorists to find their own towing company or pay for service up front and later be reimbursed. Teens should keep their membership card with them at all times. If they are AAA members, the benefits will follow the teen no matter whose vehicle they are in, including a friend’s or a family vehicle.
  • Make sure the teen’s vehicle has a well-stocked roadside emergency kit, and it’s updated based upon the season.  A few key items the kit should include are a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, first-aid kit, bottled water, rags or paper towels, tire pressure gauge, blanket, granola or energy bars, a flathead and Phillips screwdriver, an adjustable wrench and pliers. During the winter months in areas with inclement weather, add in an ice scraper, snow brush and kitty litter or other material to increase traction if stuck in snow.

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 325,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter at or on Facebook at

CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Tidewater Automobile Association of Virginia, Incorporated. All Rights Reserved.
AAA Tidewater Virginia is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the Tidewater Virginia region (All Hampton Roads cities, including Norfolk, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg; Virginia's Eastern Shore; as well as the following counties: Greensville, Surry, Brunswick, Isle of Wight, Gloucester, Lancaster, Middlesex, Richmond County, Southampton, Sussex, Mecklenburg, James City County, York, Lunenburg, Essex, King & Queen, Mathews, Northumberland, and Westmoreland).