Take care of your car so it can take care of you

It’s December 10 and you’ve just finished up your last final, meaning it’s time to leave the sweet confines of your dorm and hit the snowy road back to your parents house — home. 

It’s 10 p.m. and you’ve got a 90-minute trek ahead of you. But, can your car make it? The strange noise you’ve been ignoring from under the hood has only gotten louder, and two new lights have appeared on the dash. Is it serious? What if your car breaks down on a back road in rural Le Sueur County? What if you’re left stranded for a night, all alone, because your car decided to give out?

Your whole life, you’ve been told to forget about the “what ifs” because they’re not worth stressing about if they haven’t actually happened. But this is a “what if” that really could happen, and the only way to avoid it is staying on top of your car’s maintenance.

It’s the smart thing to do for many reasons, but two reasons to keep in mind are safety and responsibility.

If you’re like most college students, juggling multiple things at once, it’s easy to forget your car needed an oil change about 100 miles ago, or that your tires haven’t been rotated in two years. That wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t affect the way your car runs, which could leave you — and other drivers on the road — in unsafe situations.

Your safety is important, and whether or not you take it into account, your car’s maintenance plays a big role in that. The last thing you want this winter is to be sitting on the side of the road, next to a never-ending cornfield, freezing your butt off because your car stopped running and refuses to start up again. 

Sure, you could call AAA, but who knows how long they’ll take? You could have frostbite by the time they arrive. Maybe you could call your parents, but how much help could they be from 70 miles away? 

The reality of it is, your parents won’t always be there to help you, and that’s why it’s important to learn responsibility and independence through everything you do, including car care.

Think of maintaining your car as an introduction to adulthood. When you were younger, your parents scheduled your doctors appointments and took you into the clinic themselves. Now that you’re older, your parents don’t even have access to your medical files anymore. So, why would they bring your car into the shop for you?

It’s all up to you now. Getting gas, scheduling oil changes, rotating tires, replacing broken windshield wipers, the whole nine yards; add it to your planner so you don’t forget. None else will remind you otherwise.

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