Keeping Your Car and its Contents Safe

If you have to park in a deserted area, have a friend walk you to your car.

If you have to park in a deserted area, have a friend walk you to your car.

A wise person (who surely spent more than $1,000 a year on textbooks) once said, "It's better to be safe than sorry." When it comes to bringing your car to campus, truer words were never spoken.

While having your own set of wheels at school can save you the hassle of lugging a six-pack on the bus (a six pack of soda pop, of course), if you don't take precautions to protect your car and its contents, the bus might end up being your ride home.

The following advice might seem like common sense, but as a college-educated young adult, you probably know what they say happens to common sense as intelligence increases.

Lock Your Doors

The same person who said it's better to be safe than sorry probably also coined the phrase "You can never be too careful." That said, keep your doors locked at all times — as soon as you get in the car, while you're driving and after you park. Whether you're parked in a garage or driving through a seedy neighborhood, locking your doors is the first step to car safety.

Keep Track of Your Stereo

Often, thieves don't want your car so they can make a beer run, they target a car for its parts or what's inside it. One common target is aftermarket stereo equipment. If you've installed a killer sound system in your car, write down the equipment's serial number so that if it's stolen and recovered it can be returned to you. Some systems come with a removable faceplate that you can take with you when you park your car — much like cyclists who remove their bicycle seat to prevent theft.

Park Smart

It's always a good idea to park in well-lit areas that have lots of foot traffic. You may also want to bring a friend when walking to your car late at night.

Hide Your Valuables
Don't leave valuables out in the open.

Don't leave valuables out in the open.

Leaving your smartphone in plain view on the car seat is like taping a "steal me" sign to it. If you must leave your valuables in your car, conceal them in the glove compartment, center console or trunk.

Take Care of Your Car

No one wants to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with an empty gas tank or a dead battery. Try to keep your gas tank at least a quarter full. Get routine oil changes and maintenance checks when you go home, or find a trusty mechanic near campus. It's also smart to join an organization such as AAA, which can help you in the event of a breakdown. Also check if your insurance company offers roadside assistance.

Check Out Your Surroundings

When deciding to bring your car to school, it's a good idea to consider the neighborhood you'll be driving in. Your campus may be beautiful and well-lit, but remember to check out the surrounding area. Does it have a high crime rate? Are you driving a high-theft car? If you're concerned, you may want to invest in an anti-theft device.

© Cars.com 4/29/13