Because October is Fall Car Care Month, this blog contains some fall car care tips to get you in the spirit of the season. Fall is an ideal time to check that your vehicle is in top shape before heading into harsh winter weather and temperatures. Keeping up with basic preventative maintenance helps prevent breakdowns or unexpected repairs, and keeping your car functioning in the best possible shape helps reduce the chance and severity of collisions.
Here are some things you can do to make sure your car is ready to drive into fall and beyond:
Test Your Battery
Winter temperatures can be particularly rough on car batteries, and you typically don’t get a warning sign when your battery is about to quit on you—it just quits. Peek under the hood and give your battery a good look to make sure it is clean, tightly connected and free of corrosion. If your battery is more than four years old, you might consider replacing it before the cold weather hits.
Check Your Tire Pressure and Tire Tread
This may seem like an overly simple idea, but keeping your tires in good shape is incredibly important for your car’s performance. Tires are your car’s foundation; they’re what keep you from sliding off the road during a turn and help your car come to a stop. While the quality of your tires might not make a huge difference in day-to-day driving, where your tire quality really begins to matter is in emergency situations, which are increasingly common with harsh winter road conditions.
To make sure your tires are in good shape, check your tread on each tire. To check tread, place a penny into several of the grooves across the tire. Make sure Lincoln’s head is upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you should consider new tires. If you can see Lincoln’s face, but not all of his head, you should consider getting new tires soon, but they’ll probably last the season.
As temperatures drop, so does your tire pressure. Air pressure in your tires decreases by 1-2 pounds for every 10 degree drop in temperature. Underinflated tires wear down more quickly, decrease your fuel efficiency and, most importantly, decrease your ability to control your vehicle.
When checking your tire pressure, for the most accurate reading, check tire pressure when the tires are cold. Driving as little as a mile can affect the reading. While checking the tread and pressure for your car’s four tires, don’t forget to check your spare tire also.
Check Your Fluid Levels
Depending on your level of comfort and knowledge, either check or have a technician check your car’s fluids, including the engine oil and break, transmission and steering fluid. Switch out your windshield washer fluid for an all-weather fluid that won’t freeze.
Check Your Wiper Blades
Check your car’s wiper blades to make sure they aren’t brittle, cracked or torn. Windshield wipers are essential to help increase your visibility in inclement weather, and the blades typically need to be replaced every six to 12 months.
Check Your Heater
Fall is a good time to make sure your car’s heater is in good working order before the winter sets in. Having a heater that works properly isn’t just important for comfort, it also helps defrost your car.
Check Your Lights
During fall and winter, the days get shorter and darker, so having your car’s lights (both inside and out) in good working order is important.
Check Your Brakes
Brakes are undeniably important for vehicle safety, but they’re even more important when driving on wet, icy or snowy roads. Pay close attention to how they sound and feel. If they feel soft and spongy, it could be because air has gotten into the break lines. If this is the case, an auto technician can drain the air from the lines. Scraping or grinding sounds indicate that brake pads are badly worn and need to be replaced. When in doubt, take your car to a professional. You should have your brakes checked annually to make sure they’re in good working order.
With these simple checks, your car will be ready to roll into fall.