From A Tyre Inflator To Screenwash: Your Guide To Student Motoring

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Last time, we brought up the scary subject of your child disappearing off to university as their first real ‘leaving home’ moment. We say first because a huge proportion of ‘children’ (term used loosely) return home for months or even years after higher eduction these days, thanks to high house prices or rental costs.

When they wave goodbye, it’s more common than ever that it’s actually them driving to University in their own car, rather than the familiar old days of parents taking them with cars loaded to bursting point with suitcases, duvets, computer equipment and anything else they can fit in, then lugging it all to their student bedroom. Fortunately, technology now means that unlike when I went to university, a huge amount of space isn’t required for a mountain of CDs and a stereo. In it’s place, Alexa in her Echo Dot does both nicely!

So, here’s where you need to hand over to your young bright eyed offspring, with a quick guide to car maintenance…

From the point at which you begin learning to drive, it is essential that you understand how to ensure that your vehicle is safe for the roads.  Identifying your motor vehicle’s weaknesses prior to departing will allow you to address them and ensure that your means of transport is secure.  Some of the issues that you recognise may be corrected independently at home or a local petrol station, whilst others may require you to seek support.

What should I check?

  1. Lighting
    As soon as the sun begins to set and the darkness falls, it is essential that you use your headlights to make sure your car is clearly identifiable whilst you are travelling.   One way you can check your lights are working is by turning them on whilst you are parked securely.  This can usually be done without starting the engine.  If you are on your own, you will be able to walk around the car to check the lights. Any issues you identify can then be dealt with as necessary.  If you are unsure how to do so, you should seek advice from a mechanic, or head down to your nearest Halfords (in daylight!) where they’re usually helpful, and will often even change bulbs for you.

    In addition to the lights you switch on inside the car, there are also lights that automatically appear as you break whilst driving.  These should also be checked.  You could do this in several ways.  Asking someone to let you know if they can spot your break lights as you press the pedal whilst parked safely is one option.  If you are alone and parked in front of something including a garage door or another vehicle, you can recognise the reflection of your break lights, particularly when it is becoming dark outside.
  2. Tyres
    Tyres have specific regulations to ensure that your vehicle is safe.  The minimum legal tyre depth is 1.6mm.  Inspecting your tyres regularly should ensure that you are safeguarding against exceeding the required tyre depth.  Additionally, ensuring that your tyre pressure is within the range suggested by the vehicle’s manufacturer, will support your vehicles safety.  You can do this at home using a pressure gauge.  This will identify the level of pressure in the tyres.  If the tyre pressure is too high you can release it.  Discovering the tyre pressure is too low will require further inflation.  Just like changing tyres for example replacing a flat tyre with a spare tyre, you can also use a tyre inflator, some of which can be 12V (like the Ring RAC635) and so powered by the car itself, to increase your tyre pressure to meet the recommended amount. Find out more about getting one for the boot at
  3. Engine oil and coolant
    The coolant reservoir is in a different location to the engine oil.  The coolant reservoir will have a marker on the side showing the minimum and maximum levels required.  Again, if the level is below the minimum marker, the coolant can be replaced.  It is suggested that you only increase the level if required once the car is cool, and that you ensure the replacement is ideal for your vehicle by checking in the manual, with a mechanic or the cars manufacturer. Again, you can buy coolant off the shelf at Halfords.
  4. Windscreen wash
    Keeping the motors windscreen clear ensures that you may see clearly whilst moving.  Over time dirt will build up on the screen meaning that vision is impacted.  Assessing the volume of screen wash is essential to guarantee that you are capable of cleaning your screen as and when required.  By raising your bonnet, you can locate the windscreen fluid reservoir and check the volume of wash within it.  If the level is low, replace this by removing the cap and adding the appropriate screen wash. This is the easiest of all to buy, as it’s sold in almost all petrol stations, supermarkets, discount stores and more.<

Being able to check that your means of transport is reliable will build confidence and increase the security when operating it.  Booking your car in for its annual service is great for its maintenance and even using the winter checks offered by many garages supports you in ensuring that your vehicle is safe to drive.

Learning The Driving Basics For Students

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Going to university is, by its very definition, going to be a learning experience and with a steep learning curve. Cutting the apron strings from mum and dad is a big deal for many teenagers, and even twenty-, thirty- and forty-somethings as mature students.

Learning to cook to give yourself a healthy diet, making sure the laundry is done regularly and simply getting enough sleep with a whirlwind of a social life are all things you have to take care of without parental support.

Where things are very different now compared to when parents went off to Uni is the student car. It was relatively rare to taker a car to Uni in my day. Yes, there were a few rich daddy’s girls who brought them, but they tended to stay parked most of the time, as petrol isn’t particularly high on the list of preferred expenses for students.

Now though, it’s a very different matter, and that’s evident to the full time residents of big university cities. It’s going to be a fairly oblivious driver that fails to spot the increase in traffic during term time, as thousands more vehicles pile into the city. A big part of the change compared to a few decades ago is the death of student halls, in favour of huge blacks of flats. Private companies are building all over the place, and it’s tempting for Universities to swap hefty maintenance bills with selling off the land and passing the reins over to these sprawling corporates.

For many students, they come from much smaller villages and towns, so driving in a massive metropolis can be very daunting to say the least, not to mention hair raising for both the driver and others in and around the car. It’s a good idea, then, for parents to take a day trip or two to the new home of their child, and accompany them driving around while you both get your bearings. It won’t be long, after all, before you’re trying to find your way to visit them! A little time learning the basics of driving around a city and safely maintaining their car can work wonders for your child’s confidence, and help you feel calmer about them being away from home.

Getting Some Sleep Around Noisy Neighbours

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Dorm life is something you expect to be an experience that represents a coming of age, a milestone in life that marks leaving the family home and taking responsibility for yourself properly for the first time in your life. While some kids grow up doing many of the chores around the house, others have almost everything done for them. When you get to halls of residence for the first time, those two groups will be clearly separated – those that have the skills to get by will find things relatively straightforward other than feeling a little homesick. The rest will turn to beans on toast and wonder who’s coming to do the laundry for at least a week until the penny drops.

In the first few weeks, dorms tend to be party central, with loud music being enjoyed by pretty much everyone on every corridor until the early hours. However, as the focus inevitably turns to attending lectures and study, even the biggest party animals tend to feel the effects of burning the candle at both ends.

This tends to be a make or break point for some students, particularly those that lack the confidence to be assertive with their peers. When sleep begins to become a desperate commodity, some of us collapse, others get irritable and there’s a few who simply give up. They tend to have vanished from the realms of higher education by about six week’s into the fresher’s year, never to be seen again. For the rest of us – it’s time to learn a few lessons in diplomacy.

For example, there was one girl on our block that came from a fairly working class home. Her dad was a builder, and had given her his work stereo to use while she was away at uni. If you’ve not seen one of these gargantuan monstrosities before, they’re designed to be used outdoors. It appeared that she had literally no idea just how loud this thing was, with local radio blaring out until at least midnight most evenings, and occasionally at weekends until 3am, which could be even louder if she’s just got in from her night out drinking.

Now, I’m not saying the occasional evening of loud music is unreasonable – far from it, but with the student hall walls being made from something akin to paper, I wasn’t the only one feeling that I was rapidly nearing breaking point. As I said, it appeared that she was blissfully unaware of the bad feeling slowly building up in the building – and that was nicely reflected in the horrified expression on her face when I invited her down to my room to see just how well sound travels. In this case – it was as simple as that, although I suspect she was feeling rather embarrassed for much longer than she wanted to let on!

So, the moral of the story is to remember that you might have moved out of the hotel of mum and dad, but you’re still staring living quarters, and quite possibly with much less tolerant people than your own family. At home with blood relatives, arguments tend to be forgotten very quickly indeed, whereas with your new studious neighbours, the same may not be true.

Dan Lets Money Keep Him Warm With Boiler Error Codes!

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One of the biggest problems students face is limited budgets and getting by on a fairly low income during their studies. Increasingly, they’ve been turning to work to top up their incomes, when at a similar time in their lives, their parents may have not needed to do so, instead benefiting from grants and loans that were paid back once they got a job.

Parents are often finding themselves powerless to help – student rents are growing way faster than wages, and that was true before 2008’s collapse, but has been much more pronounced since. For that reason, students have been forced to get creative with how they’re getting by, and today we’re going to take a look at Dan, a local student who’s making money by building websites to help out people that are waking up to find that their boiler has packed up.

In fact, he’s capitalising on his old job as a gas fitter. He’s fully qualified and gas safe registered – the body responsible for the UK that makes sure all approved gas engineers are properly trained and competent. He’s studying electrical engineering – a fairly tangential course that complements his existing knowledge and hopes to have a huge advantage in the industry once he graduates thanks to the dual disciplines he’ll be able to offer as a qualified expert.

Dan’s recognised that there’s a hole in the market for helpful advice for home owners, giving them the information they need to help them know when they can solve problems with their heating system themselves and when the time has come to get an expert in to help. For example, he gives details of the error codes that might flash up on their boiler – an example would be an F22 fault on a Vaillant unit which is something that a home owner can probably deal with on their own. He’s quick to point out though, that it’s not going to be expensive for a call out to resolve either, so if people are nervous they should make the call.

You might be wondering how that pays the rent or puts food on the table while he’s studying. He’s using a clever technical technique called affiliate marketing, which means that companies pay him for sales or referrals, so each time a customer requests a quote from a gas fitter, he gets paid – a great win win situation – the customers get their problem fixed, the engineers get work, and a student doesn’t go hungry – brilliant.

So, why not take inspiration from Dan? Everyone has a hobby, a skill or other useful experience and information to share, why not put yours to work and raise a little extra cash on the web? Dan did, and he’s saving homeowners everywhere when they have a boiler breakdown – you could too!

Clever Ways To Protect Your Property

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Student life can be one big party, and while it can be a big change to get used to initially, it soon turns into an exciting and highly social baptism into adult life. It’s a time of life when priorities get decidedly realigned – often the food budget will be borrowed to fund that night out, so frugal choices become part of daily life, balancing the need to be seen in the right places with the right people, alongside getting by on a tight budget.

In recent times, crime has moved into student halls, and rented digs out in the towns and cities across the UK, and it’s not necessarily the sort of criminals that spring to mind that are behind it. It’s all very well being insured as part of your parent’s home policy (you’ll normally need a self contained, locked unit of accommodation that only you have access to, and not all insurers cover students away from home), but if it’s someone you live with that’s taking your stuff, that will probably be an exception anyway.

One clever solution that’s getting common is to use something that your parents might have put aside in years gone by – the video baby monitor. Some models have the ability to be accessed over wifi – something that was highly criticised in the past due to the security concerns about predators watching other people’s children over the web, but most systems are actually very secure – at least sufficiently so to make those misfits of society look elsewhere. For students, though, these relatively inexpensive devices can be used as a security device, a portable cctv system that can be used to entrap the perpetrator if you suspect someone is snooping around in your room when you’re not around. Of course, many of these suspicions will prove to be untrue, but by recording the footage to a computer, you can quickly scan through the video after the event if you suspect something has gone walkabout without your permission.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to invest in a new model if you’ve got one kicking around at home, and even if you haven’t you don’t always need the latest and greatest innovations like the Motorola digital video baby monitors. In fact, even some higher quality manufacturers like Motorola have budget options, so you might want to check out a review for a new purchase.

You can also do the usual stuff like making sure your room is locked when you’re not in, but it is good to know once and for all whether or not your house mates are actually responsible or not, as suspicions can make life very difficult very quickly – and those suspicions may prove to be false!

Eat For Less With DormNoise

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One of the biggest worries for parents when you’re away at Uni is that you’re eating properly. They’ll grudgingly accept you being out until the small hours and crawling home, and even knowing it’s causing you to miss those early morning lectures, but when it comes to missing out on Mum’s home cooked meals, it’s a constant source of concern.

Supermarkets are doing very well from this – they’ve made it possible for Mums and Dads to send gift cards to their young students so that they know that you’ve got money to spend on the food shop. While that doesn’t guarantee that the money won’t get spent on the booze aisle, it does mean it won’t go over the bar after midnight when judgement is mildly impaired.

There’s also more ways for students to get more at the local supermarket, like shopping intelligently. There’s simple things like checking out the offers, as they all run plenty of multi-buy (buy two get one free) style offers and even price match between each other in the hope of winning our custom. Another great tip is to choose shopping times carefully, as visiting a store late at night will mean perishables are getting knocked down on price, and there’s less of a contest at the checkout when it’s quiet too.

Something we’re all prone to doing is missing out on offers in supermarkets because we don’t need 3 bottles of washing up liquid or a free bottle of coke with a pizza. But students tend to live with other students, so they can split the cost. Why not take advantage of lower prices all round by group buying the offers? You can really cut down on the total cost of your weekly shop this way, and help your mates do the same!

Finally, why not enter the huge number of competitions out there that let you win food vouchers? If you get lucky, you could get a whole term’s worth of free shopping.

So, make Mum and Dad worry about something else for a change and let them know you’re eating well and spending less.

Getting More From Student Life


Being a student is one of the most enjoyable times in life, whether you’re fresh out of college or returning to education as a mature student. How you cope with the financial side of life, though, will have a much bigger impact on your enjoyment of higher education than the course or your background.

For many students, university life offers the first taste of true independence, a step away from mum and dad, and into the realms of self sufficiency. Turning up for lessons is likely something you’ve developed an aptitude for over the preceding decade-and-a-half, so developing the ability to manage your money will likely be a much more challenging routine to master.

The biggest hurdle for many new students is understanding exactly what they need to pay for, since their parents have often looked after all things money up until now.

Here at we’ll be looking at things you can do to save a little cash here and there, and help you spend more of your money on the things you want to, not waste it on things you later find out you can buy for less with a little extra knowledge.