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Need a check list

I need a checklist for my son. He attends college 5 hours from home and likes to make spur of the moment visits home. He frequently comes home wanting me to check out this or that on his car. I would like to come up with a printable checklist that he can keep in the glove box and use to confirm everything is okay before he hits the road. Telling him to have a mechanic check the car over is impractable, both because of the expense, and his preference for spur of the moment trips when he doesn’t have weekend homework.

Any help would be appreciated. I will have to teach him to check the items on the list, and provide him a basic toolkit (if necessary) to do the checks as he is completely auto clueless. He even at one point called me in 40 degree weather to ask me to do a tune-up on his car because he needed to head back to school in an hour.

My father sort of did this with me when I started driving eons ago. I usually always had an old car, and lived away from home, so it was pretty important. I didn’t have a written check list. He would come outside with me and we would do a check. I was expected to do the same thing before when I left whatever place I was living before I left for my parents home. By the way, I’m a woman, so it was easy for him to emphasize how important this was. He would have me open the hood and check the oil, radiator fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, battery fluid level(if necessary), and windshield washer fluid. Then I would have to use a tire guage to check all 4 tires and the spare. Before he let me get my driver’s license, he had me rotate his tires to make sure that I knew how to change a tire. If you get your oil changed at a reliable local place (not a drive thru lube place) they will check the hoses, and air filter. And sometimes they look out for dry rotted belts. It’s worth changing the oil, even if the car is old just for this. Years later, I bought my friend’s Volvo, and she had always talked about keeping an eye on the maintenance schedule. I used the maintenance schedule as a checklist also. Now I have a new Toyota. The first thing I did was read the owner’s manual. Then I checked Car Talk to see what Click & Clack said I needed to keep in my trunk. This isn’t exactly a check list, but hope it helps.

Well Stated, Sound Advice

Your father taught you well. Too bad there seems to be so many car owners not paying any attention to their owner’s manual.

Spur of the moment never worked well in my household. Instead, consider doing major maintenance items (tune up, air and PCV filters) on an annual schedule, to avoid the spontaneity. Once you figure out his annual mileage, put the 30/60/90K checks and maintenance on a time schedule so the work gets done in July/Aug before the school year starts.

An annual schedule might be overkill, but it will keep in car well maintained. We took a similar approach with my mother in law, so that she could take trips spontaneously and have the confidence that the car was reasonably maintained. Arm him with the owner’s manual and a notebook, to write down issues as they come up, so that when you do get hold of the vehicle, you can focus on problems and not guess.

For tools, I recently got my grandson the following, for less than $50. Some of these items included hand me downs, so the real cost for new is probably $75.

Deep socket set, on sale.
3/8 18" breaker bar and exact socket for lug nuts ( I don’t like lug wrenches and this has more applications than a lug wrench)
scissors jack
tool box
asstd screwdrivers
tire pressure gauge
vice grips
hand me down tool box repainted

The tool set will get expanded over time, but I thought this was a good start.

I also set him up with a full size spare (not always possible in all cars) for about $100, which is always my preference, particularly for longer trips.

I spotted one of the professors at the University where I work driving his Corolla through a parking lot. I stopped him and pointed out that all his tires looked “flattish”. He copped an attitude, saying basically “I’ve got a PhD and I know how to take care of a car”. I asked him when’s the last time he checked his tires. He said he figured his mechanic checked them the last time he had it serviced. The next day he mentioned he had his tires checked and they were all at 16 psi and how the steering felt lighter. There was no thank you.

Make that a 1/2 breaker bar, do a test and see if you can break the lug nuts loose

Digital Tire pressure Gague
Something to put on the ground to lay on (blanket) if you have to look under car
Bulb kit (this might be excessive) some places it is required for commerical vehicles
Check that spare (all around check-out)

It’s always the “smart” ones that are the most ignorant when it comes to things beyond their field of study.
I have an uncle that’s pretty much a genius when it comes to computers and other electronic gizmos, but he’s rather ignorant on how to spend money wisely.

Must have been a liberal arts PhD.

I have lots of friends who are PhDs, and even MDs. They come to me for advice on blue collar stuff. I just last week explained to a highly respected and very successful lawyer friend how to use an angle grinder. Truely smart people don’t hesitate a nanosecond to accept advice in areas they know little about. It never even occurs to them to ignore input.

There’s a saying that higher and higher education means you know more and more about less and less.

And a pair of leather work gloves.
And a ratty old coat.

And, I got my daughter a AAA membership. I renew it every year as a gift.

“Must have been a liberal arts PhD.”

Electrical Engineering, believe it or not.

Those are all good ideas. Be sure to check the engine oil, fan belts,tires and air pressure and have a cell phone. Good luck.

Above all, THINK SAFETY and always practice it.

Eg., never crawl under any vehicle that is jacked up, UNLESS proper jackstands are in place.