Back to School: Get Your Car Ready for the New Semester

Back to School: Get Your Car Ready for the New Semester

It’s that time of the year again in The Twin Cities and Fargo Moorhead. School lunches are packed, backpacks are stuffed, and students prepare to return to school. As you gather your textbooks and school supplies, don’t forget to give your car some attention too.

Ensuring your vehicle is in good shape before the new semester starts can help you avoid unexpected breakdowns and ensure a safe and smooth journey. In this article, we will guide you through essential car maintenance tasks that will get your car ready for the new semester.

Check the Tires

The condition of your tires is crucial for both safety and performance. Start by checking the tire pressure. Properly inflated tires improve fuel efficiency and provide better traction on the road. Refer to your vehicle’s manual or the sticker inside the driver’s door to find the recommended tire pressure. Use a reliable tire pressure gauge to measure and adjust the pressure if necessary.

In addition to tire pressure, examine the tire tread depth. Worn-out or bald tires can significantly impact your car’s handling and increase the risk of hydroplaning on wet roads. The minimum legal tread depth is typically 2/32 of an inch, but we generally recommend replacing tires when the tread depth reaches 4/32 of an inch.

Don’t forget to inspect the spare tire as well. Ensure it’s properly inflated and in good condition to be relied upon in a flat tire emergency.

Test the Battery

A dead battery can quickly ruin your day, especially when running late for class. Start by checking the battery age. Most car batteries last between three to five years. If your battery is nearing the end of its lifespan, consider replacing it to avoid unexpected failures.

Inspect the battery terminals for corrosion or loose connections. Clean the terminals using a mixture of baking soda and water and ensure a secure connection between the battery and the terminals.

Check the battery fluid level if your battery is not maintenance-free. Some batteries have removable caps that allow you to check the fluid level. If it’s low, top it up with distilled water. However, be cautious not to overfill the battery cells.

Inspect the Brakes

The brakes are one of your car’s most critical safety system components. Start by checking the brake pads. Worn-out brake pads can reduce braking efficiency and increase stopping distances. Look for any signs of excessive wear, such as thinning pads or metal-to-metal contact. If the brake pads are worn, replace them promptly.

Check the brake fluid level in the reservoir. The brake fluid should be within the recommended range. If it’s low, it may indicate a leak in the system, and you should have it inspected by a professional.

Inspect the brake rotors for any signs of damage or warping. Uneven rotor surfaces can cause vibrations and affect braking performance. If you notice any issues, have your brake rotors resurfaced or replaced.

Check the Fluids

Regularly checking and maintaining the various fluids in your car is essential for its overall performance and longevity. Start by checking the engine oil. Ensure the oil level is within the recommended range, and if it’s dirty or due for a change, consider getting an oil change before the new semester begins.

Inspect the coolant level and mixture. The coolant protects your engine from overheating. Ensure the coolant level is adequate; if it’s dirty or hasn’t been changed for a while, flush and replace it.

Check the transmission fluid level and condition. Low or dirty transmission fluid can cause shifting issues and damage the transmission system. Refer to your vehicle’s manual for the correct procedure to check the transmission fluid.

Don’t forget to inspect the power steering and windshield washer fluid levels. Topping up these fluids when necessary will ensure smooth steering and clear visibility.

Replace Worn-out Wipers

Clear visibility is crucial for safe driving, especially during inclement weather. Inspect your windshield wipers for any signs of wear or damage. If they leave streaks or don’t effectively clean the windshield, it’s time to replace them. New wiper blades will ensure clear visibility and improve your overall driving experience.

Examine the Lights

Properly functioning lights are vital for your safety on the road. Check all your vehicle’s exterior lights, including the headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals. Replace any bulbs that are burnt out or dim. Consider having someone help you check the brake lights and turn signals to ensure they work correctly.

Inspect the Belts and Hoses

The belts and hoses in your car play a crucial role in properly functioning various systems. Inspect the serpentine and timing belts for signs of cracking, fraying, or excessive wear. If you notice any issues, have them replaced by a professional.

Also, check the radiator hoses for leaks, cracks, or bulges. Faulty radiator hoses can lead to coolant leaks and overheating. Replace them if necessary.

Clean and Organize the Interior

A clean, organized interior improves your driving experience and contributes to a healthier, more focused mindset. Vacuum the seats and floor of your car to remove dust, dirt, and debris. Clean the windows inside and out for clear visibility. Take time to declutter and organize the trunk to create more space for school supplies or groceries.

Experience the Difference at Matt’s Automotive Service Center

Preparing your car for the new semester is essential to ensure a safe and hassle-free driving experience. Follow the maintenance tasks outlined in this article to check the tires, battery, brakes, fluids, lights, belts, and hoses. Additionally, don’t forget to clean and organize the interior for a pleasant driving environment. By taking care of these essential car maintenance tasks, you’ll be well-prepared for the new semester.
When you need help getting your vehicle ready for back-to-school season in the Twin Cities and Fargo/Moorhead areas, Matt’s Automotive Service Center has locations ready to serve! Our hours are 8:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. We have locations in Bloomington, Fargo, South Fargo, Moorhead, South Moorhead, North Branch, Pine City, Columbia Heights, and a Collision center located in Fargo.  When you need a team you can rely on backed by a service experience second to none, there is only one choice. Schedule an appointment with one of our locations today!