Back to School, Get Your Ride Ready

Count on Surfwrench for Your Car Repair Needs

Around this time every year there is an audible buzz around some of the small towns of Upstate New York. Towns that have been lying dormant since the end of spring suddenly burst forth with a nervous energy that starts with a whisper, but soon grows into a familiar chant, “the college kids are coming back.” These tiny towns: Brockport, Fredonia, Geneseo, Oswego and many others have their entire calendars punctuated by the arrival and departure of several thousand young, semi-nomadic minds. Minds that come to their towns to better themselves, spend their money, and embark on lifelong friendships and adventures that will be remembered for a lifetime.

Rest assured, this is still a car blog — just wanted to let you know how people feel. Most “townies” as we call them, genuinely don’t like the college students. They prefer the peace and solace of the town during its hibernation. However, businesses and service providers who make a living off of helping these young people on their journeys love the college students. They love the fact they are there en masse, they love the fact that they have to spend money, and they love the fact that repeat business is often in a 4 year cycle. We fall into the latter camp.

How Can We Help?

You see, when it comes right down to it, college students typically don’t have a lot of money for nice new cars that are still under warranty. That means when they break, they are going to want them fixed with the smallest budgets humanly possible. Luckily for them, we are really good at that. Our system lets people post their cars, what problems they’re having, and allows independent shops and technicians to bid on their jobs in order to give our customers the best prices, choices, and overall customer experience. They then provide feedback on their shops and technicians so other customers know if they are going to get good service.

Our technicians often have kids, family or friends that are or were until recently, broke ass college students. Our system allows them to give them a break where possible, which is a lot of the time. We had a recent grad tell us about a Surfwrench Technician that waived all but $50 of a labor bill that, at a shop, was quoted at $2500. We have had examples of students designing new signage and business cards for our Surfwrench technicians in exchange for repairs. Rest assured, this is the sharing economy pumped full of amphetamines. However, one of the major questions that students still have is, “should I bring my car to campus?” And the answers are as varied and situational as the people who walk the halls of these institutions.

Slumming it in the Res Halls

Should you bring a car to school if you live on campus? Well that depends entirely your school. Some campuses have ample access to public transport and specialized student transport that will allow you to get around pretty much wherever you need to go, whenever you need to get there. Additionally, parking passes can be more expensive than books (pending you don’t buy used through Amazon, in which case Surfwrench really isn’t for you).

Other campuses, it’s a four mile hike, uphill both ways through the frozen tundra.

Your Friends Off-Campus are Your Best Friends

girls lounging with laptops
We wish our dorms were this cool…

Many campuses don’t let freshmen bring cars to campus for simple numbers reasons, but let’s be real, that makes them more likely to bring one.

However, if you have friends off campus more than likely they are going to have some sort of parking available to stash your car. This is a go-to for many freshmen and on-campus students who don’t want to pay the extortion that is a parking pass, for what is sometimes only a few week stay. However, it is prudent to make sure that the alarm doesn’t randomly go off at 3 AM, while they are letting you park for free.

Despite being in a self-enclosed ecosystem, realistically you’re going to have to go off campus once in awhile. Social life, shopping, and skipping school are all completely valid reasons for bringing a car. Realistically, it’s only going to take you a few weeks to get cabin fever and need to get off campus to go exploring. Yes, a lot of student governments do a good job of getting you out and about to events, but let’s be real — the world is more interesting when you’re off the beaten path. Ask anyone who has been there.

Plus having a car in a dorm really helps build camaraderie. It means that you escape the surly bonds of campus and go on better adventures with your friends. Let’s be real, riding a bus with 15 Wegmans bags isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun afternoon. However, piling 4 of your friends into your beater, blaring some of your favorite music, and buying everything except the paper towels that you needed isn’t just practical — it turns something mundane into an adventure. That’s really the whole point of college isn’t it? Taking learning, which you’ve been doing for the better part of 15 years, and making it more interesting.

Off Campus (Non-Commuter)

Old BMW 5 Series
This is actually 100x cooler than 99% of cars we’ve seen on college lots….

These are the people who we really identify with. They are a bit older and a bit wiser than their underclassmen comrades. Often times, they are driven off campus by the absolutely insane price of housing and have sought refuge in the lower-end apartments of their given municipality with a small squad of their closest friends. For most of our team, this is the part where college went from routine to insane overnight.

Because you don’t have so many people watching over your every move, your moves are more at your own pace. This is the part of life where you find out exactly who people really are. This is also the part of college where you need your own transport the most. Because you’re no longer functioning on anyone else’s schedule, your logistics need to be able to reflect that.

Oftentimes by this point in a person’s college career, they have external pull factors as well. Part time jobs require a way to get to them, and most internships are off campus as well. This means that your vehicle has to work on someone else’s timeline, so needless to say, it has to work. We sympathise with these users the most because it’s where a lot of our marketing team was not so long ago. With the way that we use interns as well, it is a constant reminder of the uncertainty of life at this point in a person’s college career. While a lot of your friends are starting to become flakes, we know that you have one friend that has to work and has to get you where you’re going: your aging, brittle car.

You want to make a good impression at your jobs and internships. Showing up late because your car didn’t start isn’t a good way to do that. Ask anyone who works for us, if they miss a meeting because of car problems — we fix their car for them free of charge, but we rip on them the entire time that we’re under the hood. We do this all in good fun, but simple problems can cause massive headaches if left untreated.


You really, really need your car. Commuter students are our bread and butter. While public transit is a completely legitimate option for many, for some its really just easier to use their car. This is especially true in the SUNY system, with the notable exceptions of the downtown campuses. However, many schools offer only limited classes at their metro centers, and it falls to the main campus to pick up the slack.

We love the practicality of commuter students. This is a waste-not, want-not way of operating that we have embraced as well (we still work in a garage for f**k’s sake). The only downside of this is, while if you’re off campus on your own, the fun can come to you. If you live with your parents it’s quite hard to throw a raging toga party, unless of course you have REALLY cool parents.

So yes, you should bring your car to campus:

Whether you live on campus, in student housing off campus, or you’re commuting – – a car is a useful tool. It can get you to class, get you around your small college town when the public transit isn’t as good as it could be, or all of the extemporaneous adventures along the way. While they are fun, we know that car problems in college are very stressful. Luckily, we are here to help. We built a site specifically for college students to be able to keep their cars on the road and get where they’re going.

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