If you are lucky enough to have a car that’s all yours, then I am sure that your first thought is bringing that car to campus. Yay! No longer will you have to beg for rides to the grocery store to fulfill your food craving or wait for the bus and hope that it doesn’t start to rain too hard. But for many college students this will be the first time that they are going to have to take care of the car without someone to run to when something goes wrong. So here are some things to keep in mind when you decide to bring a car to campus.
Before you leave home make sure that you have all of the documents you will need. That means registration, proof of insurance, driver’s license, everything. The worst thing that can happen is that you get pulled over without these things. Also, make sure you know some basics about what to do or who to call if something happens to your car. For example, do you have AAA and do you always call them when your car breaks down? Another good thing to look into is finding a good mechanic nearby campus so that should your car break down you know where to take it.
Once you have your car on campus you also have to think about protecting your car from theft. The first and most simple step is to always lock your doors. This may seem obvious but you may be inclined to forget about it if you throw your keys in your purse and then can’t find them to lock the doors. Just remind yourself every time you leave the car. Another important tip is to be aware of where you are and where you are parking. On campus you are normally safe but when you go off campus you should be aware of the area. If it’s not the best area try to park in a highly populated area that is well lit. You may also want to look into getting an anti-theft security system. Another way to ward off theft is to hide valuables like GPS, iPods, and anything else that might tempt thieves. Just remember to put them in the glove box or center console and you’ll lower the chance of theft.
If the worst should happen, make sure that you are insured. Although it is tempting to buy no more than the state minimum for auto insurance, you should reconsider. Minimums will barely cover the cost of most accidents, let alone the value of the car (especially if you are fortunate enough to drive something nice!). Sure, auto insurance seems a good place to cut back on monthly spending on a student budget, but out of pocket costs as a result of an accident will do more to drain your bank account. A good auto insurance plan is essential to a good financial decision making during your college years, and paying a bit more on your monthly rate could save you much more if you have to make a claim.
If break-ins are common at your school or in your area, consider renters insurance. Renters insurance helps cover your personal belongings that your college will not cover. Personal property will often protect your belongings, even if you’ve left them in your car.
Finally, make sure to keep your car in good maintenance. We’re all busy, but skipping out on important things like changing the oil or keeping gas in your car can hurt you in the long run when you’re stuck in a bad area and your car won’t start. If you don’t know the first thing about what or when your car needs maintenance then be sure to learn the basics from someone who does. Even if the idea of car talk puts you to sleep it is important information that everyone should know in order to survive in the real world.
So keep these tips in mind as you head off to college with your car and you should have a great semester bus-free.