Ryan Chartrand

Last year, I got a job. I know, that has nothing to do with cars, except for the fact that I worked later than the city buses ran and thus needed a car. So, much to my delight, I got the car I used in high school back from my parents so I wouldn’t have to walk home alone in the cold.

I was quite happy. I had a car. I could go to places on the weekends that I couldn’t go to before, do things I couldn’t do before and take my friends places we had never gone before. You get the picture.

One day, however, I noticed my tire was running out of air. I found the closest gas station with an air pump and promptly corrected the situation. Or so I thought.

As I ran around running a few more errands, I noticed that my car was making a funny noise. I got to my next destination and looked around. My tire was losing air again. I got to another gas station, filled it up and went on my way. But on my way to the next errand I realized my tire was out of air AGAIN.

Clearly, the tire had a hole in it, and worst of all, I didn’t know where I could get it fixed.

The big mistake was not stopping the car right there, pulling out my American Automobile Association (AAA) card and getting my car towed somewhere to be fixed. Instead, I wandered around town looking for a garage for half an hour before I finally found one. They told me my tire had been shredded beyond repair and that I would need a new one. I had no choice.

Judging by Cal Poly’s stuffed to the brim parking lots and demands that more parking be made avaliable, many of you probably have a car. I’ll assume that you all know how to drive, but I’m sure many of you don’t necessarily know how to maintain it.

First of all, AAA is your friend. If you don’t already have a card, get one now. AAA will tow you for free for a few miles, amongst other things like giving you a jump start or a bit of gas to get home.

In a town like San Luis Obispo, chances are where you need to be towed isn’t that far, luckily for you.

It’s like an ambulance for your car, only ambulances tend to be a little bit faster (that being said, remember to always get the name of your driver and the towing company in case they do any damage to your car. Trust me, it happened to me this summer).

It’s also important to know where there are places to take your car. There are a number of car repair shops on Higuera. Also, many dealerships have garages attached to them. Find out where yours is and where they take the cars for repair; sometimes you can get better repairs where they know more about your car than anywhere else.

It’s also important to know where gas stations are if you ever need to fill up quickly, but you should also pay attention to which ones have air pumps in case you find your tires to be less full of air than you’d like.

If your car is an older model, know when the end is really the end. One of my friends recently got a new car because her previous vehicle, which was older than her, continuously broke down and had to be taken to the shop. The car would run fine, but every once in a while it wouldn’t start up again. The car would be towed. My friend would sigh with exasperation and call her parents to let them know.

No matter if your car is new or old, learn how to keep your car running as smooth as possible. Check the tires regularly, keep up with oil change dates, listen for strange noises, don’t waste your car battery and don’t get into any bad accidents. Taking care of your car is like taking care of your body: if you don’t stay healthy, you could be in lots of trouble later on.

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