-October Fall Car Care is the perfect time to get your vehicle prepared for the winter season which is sure to follow. A way to remember is to time it with the old saying “Spring Forward, Fall Back”. Fall is a time when clocks are adjusted, smoke detector batteries are checked or changed and also a good time to have your vehicle checked.
The Car Care Council recommends the following checklist to make sure your vehicle is ready for cold winter weather ahead.
Heating, Wipers & Lights
- Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. It isn’t fun to find out these don’t work when you need them most.
- Consider winter wiper blades and use cold-weather washer fluid. Wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don’t properly clean your windshield should be replaced. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months. Remember to check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir.
- Check to see that all exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed. Remember to check those tail and brake lights.
Tires & Brakes
- Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure of all tires, including the spare. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads.
- During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
- Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
Gas, Oil & Filters
- Keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the cold weather to prevent moisture from forming in gas lines and possibly freezing.
- Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter.
- Check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
System Checks – Charging, Cooling & Exhaust
- Have the battery and charging system checked, as cold weather is hard on batteries. Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.
- Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
- Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
Pack the Essentials
- Make sure that your ice scraper and snow brush are accessible and ready to use.
- Stock an emergency kit with jumper cables, a flashlight, blankets, extra clothes, bottled water, nonperishable food and a first aid kit with any needed medication.
- Order a free copy of the recently-updated 80-page Car Care Guide for your glove box at carcare.org/car-care-guide.
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.