*vroom vroom* Having a car at college.

Nov 15, 2001

The Bottom Line Having a car at college is great...but also a burden sometimes. Weigh the pros and cons before you decide.

Last year I didnít bring a car to college. This year (my sophomore year) I brought a car to college because 1. I missed driving 2. It would be convenient to have one. The four months have taught me a lot about having a car at college. I hope to share these lessons with you.

So you want to have a car at college? Well hey before you gas up and drive off, consider a few things first. This review is designed to offer pros and cons of having a car at school and give tips should you choose to bring your car to school.

I can drive myself!


Now instead of walking everywhere or bumming rides from people, you can simply drive there yourself. I live in the cold and wet Northwest. Walking four blocks back in California is no biggie but when thereís a downpour thatís blowing sideways, itís not pretty. Having a car is great to run errands to the bank, Target or the grocery. Also, asking people for rides was such a hassle last year. I hated having to ask people because they had to take the time and I felt guilty. Also, it means you donít owe anyone any gas money and you can come and go as you please.


Having a car means others will now depend on you to take them places like the bank, Target or the grocery. It also means wasting gas to take other people to buy fish or to go on a beer run. And you canít very well say no right? It also means that people will ask to borrow your car. So that means making a judgment call of letting that person borrow your car.


Cars are great for your own transportation but weigh the pros and cons of having your own car with having to drive other people places. Which means you have to learn to say ďnoĒ sometimes so people donít get dependant on you and think of you as their chauffeur and start calling you James. Another tip is to make sure what your insurance policy is. If it covers other drivers outside your family, thereís not necessarily an excuse to not let others use your car. But if doesnít cover other people, either drive them yourself or donít let them use your car. They can bum a ride or borrow a car from someone else. Myself, I know which friends are good drivers and which arenít. So I let those who are borrow it, but only within reason. If itís a trip out to the city, Iíll drive. But if itís to go to the bank, I hand over the keys.

Just call me Ms. Fixit!


I canít think of any pro of having to repair your car. No wait, take that back. I do know of one. Having a car at college means you canít so much rely on your parents. So Iíve learned everything about my car in case a repair is necessary. I know the history about the car, how a car works. Now instead of paying someone else labor for simply putting in a backlight, I do it myself. And I save myself money. So the possibility of a repair makes me much more responsible concerning my car.


If you do have repairs which you canít fix yourself, being in an unfamiliar place can be scary. At home, I have a service repair that I know very well, I know the guys by name and they know my car very well. But being in a new place means not knowing where to go for the best repair and the best prices.


Before you leave for school or when you get there, research auto places around your school. Go out and meet the people and you can often distinguish which places are reputable and which arenít. Have their phone numbers and keep them with you and you and your parents will feel much more comfortable knowing thereís someone you can call should you run into a car emergency or need a repair. I have a phone number of a Volvo (my car) dealership along with independent Volvo servicing places in my glove compartment for both at home and here at school.

Burn, Baby Burn


No pros as far as I can see!


Letís face it. Gas is costly. Gas is darn expensive. I fill my tank with regular unleaded. At home I pay an absurd $1.79 (Iím from California) while here Iíve found Costco gas (a little plug for Costco!) to be about $1.45. But still! The principle of having a car with you means having added costs of gas money. If youíre driving a lot, this means a lot of money. It also means pollution and wear and tear on your tires. Are you sure you have the extra cash for gas?


If youíre driving your friends somewhere, ask for gas money. If theyíre your friends, they wonít gripe when they contribute a few bucks. If you canít ask, donít bring a car with you. Or just never drive anyone else but yourself. But thatís no fun! So search for the cheapest gas around and make your friends cough up a few bucks for your gas fund.

Additional Tips

So that about sums up my pros and cons. Itís great to have a car with you at college. You can roadtrip, you can get out of that isolated college bubble, you can drive to the grocery. But be aware of the negatives as well. Also, some more tips.

-Keep your papers with you at all times! Always have a drivers license. Always have your car insurance. I keep my insurance in my glove compartment along with other papers. These papers are receipts of when Iíve had my car serviced so it indicates a history of whatís been done to my car and whatís been fixed. I also keep important phone numbers such as emergency contacts as well as repair places. I also keep a California ID card in there just in case I need to identified. (Knock on wood, it doesnít ever need to be used). Iím a member of AAA and I keep a copy of that number in there too.

-Become a member of AAA. American Automobile Association. You have to pay monthly fees; Iím a member under my momís account so I pay less. But itís great should something happen when youíre on the road. If my car breaks down I can call AAA and they can send a towtruck within minutes. I urge you to become a AAA member.

-Emergency supplies. I keep flares, a first aid kit, water, towels, umbrella in my car. Because you never know what situation might occur and you should be prepared for anything.

-Along with those items, I also have a cell phone. Something I wanted when I drive in case of an emergency. Also (sorry all you feminist chicks out there!!) but as a girl, I feel much more having a cell phone. I rarely use my cell phone but have it turned on when I'm in the car. On a side note however, I never talk on the phone when driving...only when I'm stopped or pulled over do I use it. Cell phones are good for emergencies...but two hands driving is good. If you do get a cell phone, try finding one that can be a hands free phone.

-Have some rules about riding in your car. Everyone has to have their seatbelt on before I go anywhere. No more than the allotted spots in my car. No kicking my seat when Iím driving. Music canít be too loud and no going absolutely bananas in my car. As a driver, I have to be responsible not only for myself but for other people. I think thatís a really important thing to know about having a car at college. The people who you drive, you are responsible for and you need to keep a cool head when driving to make the right decisions. I hate to get preachy, but itís absolutely true.

Iím sure thereís additional advice I could giveÖbut I canít think of any. Thanks for reading and be safe!

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