Winter is just around the corner, which means it’s time for important seasonal maintenance. Fall car care can help to catch minor problems before they become expensive repairs, but most importantly they keep you safe in the winter months. Follow these recommendations to prepare your vehicle for the upcoming winter driving season and help ensure your car stays in great shape all winter long.
Visibility When Driving is a huge concern when the temperature drops, ensure your heater and defroster are in good working condition before visibility becomes a driving hazard. Replace burned out headlights and repair clouded lenses, both can limit your vision and be a hazard to vision on the road. It’s important to replace wiper blades with rubber-clad winter blades to protect against ice build-up. Be sure to fill up your windshield washer fluid and keep extra fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle. To learn more about what should be stored in your vehicle in case of an emergency, check out our Winter Car Kit Check List.
Change Oil and Filters as specified in your owner’s manual. Changing your oil on schedule is essential to protecting your engine. Oil tends to thicken as it gets colder, and if it’s too thick it won’t do the best job of keeping the engine lubricated. Ask your mechanic what the best oil is to use in different climates and temperatures.
Check Your Antifreeze in fall before freezing temperatures arrive. If a vehicle doesn’t have enough antifreeze, or if it has poor coolant, the car’s radiator may freeze and may damage the engine. If you are unsure how to check the levels ask the technician at your next oil change.
Worn Tires are Dangerous in inclement weather. Examine tires for tread life and uneven wearing, and rotate as recommended. The traditional way to accomplish this is to insert a penny into the tread, if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head it’s time to replace the tire. Also be sure to check that you have all season tires, those with rear-drive cars should consider switching to a set of deep-tread snow tires for maximum traction. Check your tire pressure once a month, letting the tires “cool down” before checking, under-inflated tires can cause traction to be jeopardized in wet, snowy or icy conditions. Finally, check your spare tire and the jack to ensure they are both in good condition.
Keep Your Gas Tank Filled when the temperature drops, it prevents moisture from forming, which can cause the fuel lines to freeze when temperatures are cold enough. Keeping your gas tank at least half full at all times during the winter will allow you to keep warm if stuck in traffic or stranded on the side of the road.
Check Your Brakes and Transmission periodically to prevent costly repairs that can be caused by neglect.
Have Your Battery Inspected by a technician to ensure it will last the winter at full power. Colder mornings make for rough starts. Check to make sure the battery contacts are clean and free from corrosion; if you see a white powder at the contacts, clean them off with a wire brush. If the battery is several years old, buying a new one before winter starts is economical insurance against a breakdown later in the season.
Have a Professional Mechanic Check Your Exhaust and HVAC to safeguard against potential carbon monoxide leaks, exposure to the gas can be deadly.
Remember before following any recommendations it is important to read your owner’s manual and follow the recommended service schedules.