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DEALER’S VOICE: Think cars before sending kids back to school

Published August 26, 2014

August is a time when many Canadians are thinking back to school. Parents are buying their kids new clothes, cleaning behind their ears, arranging their schedules, and so on.

But what about transportation needs? College- or university-bound children often need a vehicle, and now is the perfect time to shop for one.

After the summer holidays, many business sectors get busy and people’s schedules fill up quickly. Why not take advantage of some down time to shop for that new vehicle?

If you’re looking for pre-owned, contact your local new car dealership. They might have the ideal car in stock, or they could alert you when one becomes available on trade or through an auction.

Another option is to give your current vehicle to your son or daughter and buy a new vehicle for yourself. Your child would have instant familiarity with your present car.

If you are a student shopping for a vehicle, ask a family member if he/she has an existing relationship with a particular dealership. A salesperson who has sold a car to a family member or friend would be happy to assist.

During summer, manufacturers and dealers offer great programs on new vehicles, from zero per cent financing to generous cash back incentives. Consumers save on current model year vehicles because dealers are making room for the next’s years models. In some cases, pricing on current models is more aggressive than at any other time of year.

Choosing a vehicle for a son or daughter can be a fun and memorable occasion, and it’s also an opportunity to pass on some valuable advice about scheduled maintenance and safety.

For instance, parents should talk to their kids about how to monitor tire tread, check engine oil, coolant levels and brakes (a quick walkaround). Teach them the importance of regularly scheduled maintenance and ensure that they have their cars serviced. Young drivers should also be coached on how to check for physical damage and underinflated tires before each trip.

Even if you aren’t ready to buy a new car, August is a great month to conduct scheduled maintenance. You may have put on a lot of kilometres during the summer and now is the time for an oil change, coolant system and alignment check, safety inspection, brake inspection, and tire inspection.

Equip students with a tire pressure gauge, a rag for checking oil and a Fox 40 whistle in case of emergencies (my wife and daughter have Fox 40 whistles on their key rings).

Advise your children how to download a collision repair app from your new car dealer, which will offer step-by-step instructions on what to do in the event of an accident. Some dealers also offer these materials in printed form.

Another key message for young drivers is to avoid putting snow tires on a vehicle until winter, because snow tires are made of a softer rubber compound that will prematurely wear out if driven in warmer temperatures.

Advise children not to lend their car to friends (if an accident occurs while a friend is driving, the accident would be covered but it will adversely affect your child’s insurance rates).

As an added safety precaution, young adults shouldn’t park beside vans in public parking lots. Someone could be inside the van and planning to injure you, rob you — or worse.

Another back to school message that needs to be heard is to watch out for children. Students are returning to school, day care centres are getting busier, and school busses are out in full force. Drivers need to pay greater attention and drive with caution.

So, with all the back to school activity going, taking the time to address your automotive needs now, rather than later, could be to your advantage.

This column represents the views of TADA. Email president@tada.ca or visit tada.ca. Bob Verwey, president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, is a new-car dealer in the GTA.

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