Inheriting Your Parents’ Car For College? Read This.

It’s a bit more complicated than just taking the keys and heading off to freedom.

Follow these checklists—one for you, the other for your parents—for a smoother, safer transition.


Consult your Ford owner’s manual. What kind of motor oil does your vehicle take? And how much? These are the types of things you’ll need to know, whether you take it to Ford Service or do it yourself—and it’s all in the manual.

Learn basic car maintenance, including how to:

Find a safe place to park on campus. Your school should provide information on permits and parking options for students; research this ahead of time.

Know your late-night security options. Check to see if the campus offers a after-hours security escort to your parked car. Remember, it’s a good idea to walk with friends when heading to parking areas at night and always choose well-lit paths.

Note nearby emergency phones. Many colleges have special phones around campus to help ensure students’ safety—locate the security phone closest to your parking spot.

Build an emergency kit for your trunk, including:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Tire-pressure gauge
  • Blanket
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Work gloves
  • Flares
  • Spare ignition key
  • Bottle of water
  • Granola or energy bars
  • A selection of basic hand tools, such as screwdrivers and pliers
  • Ice scraper, snow brush and kitty litter (to increase traction, if your college is in an area that gets snow

Consider Roadside Assistance coverage. Ford 24-Hour Roadside Assistance can provide Ford owners with services such as towing, battery jump start, flat-tire change, fuel delivery and lock-out assistance. Visit or call 800-241-3673.


Weigh the benefits of signing over the title. You don’t want to end up paying unexpected fees, so consult your auto insurance company to see if your rates will change if your child becomes the owner of the car, and ask your accountant about any potential tax ramifications for you or your child.

Consult your DMV. If you decide to sign over the title, check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles for details on making the transfer. Any change of the registered owner must be formally filed at your state’s DMV.

Give the car a safety checkup. For your own peace of mind, you’ll want to make sure the car is in top shape for your child. Take it in for The Works™ package, which includes an oil change, tire rotation, brake inspection, multipoint inspection, fluid top-off, battery test, filter check, and belts and hoses check.

OK, now hand over the keys.

By Kathy Sena


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