It’s that time of year–students are heading off to college campuses across the country, some for the first time. It can be a stressful time for both parents and students. Help make the transition easier by ensuring your student’s vehicle is college-ready.

Choose the Right Vehicle

Selecting the right vehicle for your student to take to school is an important choice. You’ll want to focus on a car that offers  safety, long-term reliability and low maintenance, so that your child can focus on their studies without worrying about how to get to class. College students are notoriously low on cash, so you’ll also want to look closely at fuel efficiency to make sure that your son or daughter doesn’t have to blow their money for books on gas instead.

To save, consider going with a high-quality used vehicle as opposed to a brand-new car. There are many options out there that are reliable, fun to drive, and fuel-efficient. Check out helpful tools from, Kelley Blue Book, or Consumer Reports to help guide your decision to the best ride in your price range.

Pack Strategically

Moving is never a fun task. Trying to fit a whole dorm room into your trunk is no exception.

If you’ve got a long road trip to college ahead of you, consider paring down what you really need to bring with you. Many of the items you’ll need to outfit your dorm are likely available to purchase in or near your college town.

For those things from home that just can’t be replaced, try to condense as much as possible, making sure to secure any fragile items to ensure safe transport. Consider invest in clear plastic containers as opposed to cardboard boxes so that you can see their contents instead of having to rifle through boxes searching for a particular item.

When packing up the car for the big trip, be sure to place the largest objects in first. Then you can fill in the remaining space with smaller items. If it’s a long trip, don’t forget to pack a separate bag with necessities to keep with you in the front seat.

Be Security-Smart

While away at school, be sure your student is protecting their vehicle from break-ins. The easiest way to deter a would-be thief is to make sure that the doors are locked whenever the driver leaves the vehicle. Even if your student is running into the dorms to grab a forgotten book, stress to them the importance of always locking the doors. Thieves see an unlocked car as an easy mark; don’t let this be your student’s vehicle.

Keeping the interior of the vehicle clean also helps to deter thieves. Anything from an empty fast food bag to a blanket over the seat could be seen as a place to hide valuables. Remove the temptation and keep the interior as clean as possible. One easy trick is to do a quick clean every time you fill up. Throw any trash right into the gas station’s garbage can.

All valuables should be stowed away or removed from the vehicle when it is parked. Do not leave a GPS device, cell phone or iPod out in plain sight. Be sure to also conceal any adapters or chargers for these devices. Stow away these devices before you park to avoid inadvertently showing a thief where your valuable items are located.

You may also want to consider equipping your vehicle with an alarm. The noise from an activated alarm is enough to scare off many criminals. Most newer models now come with some form of factory installed alarm system, but an aftermarket system could be an option for vehicles without a factory alarm.

Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a highly visible, well lit area. Avoid areas that obscure your vehicle from view, which could allow for a would-be thief to gain uninterrupted access to the vehicle.

Easy Maintenance

While away at school, make sure your student keeps their car running its best by keeping up with basic maintenance. Set a calendar reminder to get the car’s oil changed based upon the manufacturer’s recommendations. Remember to check the oil level whenever you get gas. Taking this quick minute to ensure the engine is properly lubricated can save you (and your parents) from costly repairs down the road.

In addition to checking the oil levels, be sure to also check the transmission fluid, power steering fluid and coolant levels.

Treating your car well will ensure that your vehicle will be there for you in the long run.

Transitioning to college does not have to be a bumpy road. By selecting the best vehicle, packing strategically, protecting your belongings and keeping up with basic maintenance, you can be sure that your vehicle will be one less source of stress when hit campus this fall.