The first day of fall is Sunday, September 23 this year – and it won’t be long before the weather gets colder, as the days continue to grow shorter. Driving safely during the fall months requires more than just cautious driver behavior. Your car also needs some attention.
Here are 10 practical tips to help get your car ready for fall, and the coming winter.
Tires and brakes.As winter weather approaches and associated road conditions worsen, you need to know you have good stopping power. That means good brakes and tires.
Many repair shops will inspect your brakes and tires at no charge, but you can also check your own tire-tread depth by placing a quarter into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Washington’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 4/32″ of tread depth remaining.
Make sure you also check your tire pressure. Tire pressure drops when temperatures plummet. Keep the pressure at levels recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
See and be seen.Walk around the outside of the car and check the operation of all lights: headlights, taillights, parking lights, brake lights and emergency flashers. Replace all broken bulbs and those that have stopped working. Make sure all lights are clean. If you own an older vehicle with sealed-beam headlamps, you might want to pay for halogen lamps for improved visibility and safer driving.
Replace wiper blades.Cracked or worn blades won’t completely clear your windshield, which makes driving much more hazardous. Check the blade’s rubber to ensure it is flexible and operate the wipers to see that the blades clear the glass. Replace worn blades.
Heater/defroster.Driving with fogged-up windows is an accident waiting to happen. Check front and rear window defrosters to ensure proper working condition. If necessary, have your heater and defroster systems repaired. You also don’t want to get caught out in the cold without a properly functioning heater.
Check your battery.In cold weather, you need a fully-charged battery to ensure it starts each time. Have the battery and charging system inspected by a trained technician who can replace it if required. If you see signs of corrosion on the battery terminals or cable ends or if you spot loose connections, your battery needs attention.
Look under the hood.By checking under the hood, you may be able to identify some signs of wear or items that need replacing or fixing. Look for leaks, cracks or loose clamps in the cooling system and squeeze the hoses and replace any that are spongy-feeling or brittle. Inspect the underside of drive belts for fraying and replace as required. If you’ve noticed any engine noises, experienced sputtering or other engine problems, have a licensed mechanic thoroughly inspect the engine and make any necessary repairs.
Change oil and air filter.If the oil is dirty or you’re at your recommended oil change time, change the oil. Also check the air filter to ensure it is clean enough to allow for proper operation. If you can’t see light through it when you hold it up to a 60-watt bulb, replace the air filter.
Refill cooling system.Experts such as AAA recommend checking the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is too low, add a 50/50 solution of water and coolant to allow proper antifreeze capability. It may be necessary to refill the cooling system.
Check all fluid levels.This includes washer fluid, along with transmission, brake and power steering fluids. Make sure they are all at or above minimum safe levels and refill as necessary.
Get a good car wash/detail; when your vehicle is clean, it’s easier to spot any potential problems.
Source: The Car Connection