Every year, about 90% of college students receive some sort of financial aid, which means that they’re already on a tight budget. Of those college students who drive, most of them drive used cars, which are more prone to expensive maintenance and repairs. Unfortunately, for college commuters, such a tight budget leaves little for car maintenance and repairs. How can college students keep their cars going without breaking the bank or, worse, leaving them stranded and unable to attend classes?
Fortunately, many colleges offer automotive programs, where students, teachers, and others can get cost-effective car repairs. At these colleges – nearly 800 colleges and universities, across the United States, offer automotive technology degrees – technicians and mechanics-in-training work on real-world problems. Many high schools also offer automotive programs, where budding technicians get their brains in gear and get their hands dirty learning the inner workings of the modern automobile and how to maintain, diagnose, and maintain it. True, in addition to books and videos, modern automotive students use demonstrators and cutaways for many theoretical discussions. Still, theory is only as good as practice, and these new technicians practice on the real thing, including student and teacher cars, even cars brought in by the public.
How does this help students? Consider two important factors: time and money. Both of these seem to be in short supply, especially for busy college students, but perhaps a small sacrifice in one can save in the other. The typical front brake job, new pads and rotor resurfacing, might take a professional master technician no more than a couple hours, but will also cost $100 to $300. If new rotors are needed, that might range from $250 to $500. If there are problems with brake calipers, a couple more hours and $190 to $300 will get your front brakes working perfectly. Of course, these prices are all averages, and could easily shoot past $1,000 for premium vehicles or performance parts.
That’s 4 hours and $1,000+ that the average college student simply doesn’t have! On the other hand, if the student can stand to be without a ride for a couple days, borrow a car, carpool, or ride the bus, and pay for parts, $135 to $430 for the same repairs, they can save a significant amount on labor costs. College students still get the benefit of having a master technician guide maintenance, diagnosis, and repairs, without the price of labor, which repair shops and dealer service centers charge $50 to $120 per hour. This way, college students can save money on car repairs, and new technicians get to develop their new skills on real-world automotive problems.
If you’re a college student and could use some help getting your ride in shape, or at least safe and reliable enough to get back and forth to classes, your own college or nearby automotive training center might be worth a look. Practice vehicles are used to teach basic maintenance, diagnosis, and repair skills, even check engine light diagnosis and transmission repairs. If you’re willing to give them time to work it out – this is training, after all – could save you cash for other important things, like school books and supplies.