So the kids are back to school and you’re rushing from place to place ferrying them to various activities along with trying to get your home and yard ready for winter. With all that’s going on, it’s tempting to let car maintenance slide.
Don’t let it. With less daylight and erratic weather, it’s especially important to make sure your car is running smoothly and safely. These tips below are especially important now, as the weather transitions from summer to winter.
Fall Car Care Tips: Your Tires
Worn tires are a safety hazard, especially as the ground gets slippery. Here’s an easy way to make sure they’ve got enough tread to do the job. Insert a penny into the tire groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tires are worn out and need to be replaced.
“If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tires are worn out.”
Cooler temperatures will also change your tire pressure. According to AAA, tire pressure drops one PSI (pound per square inch) for every 10-degree drop in temperature. The best time to check tire pressure is in the morning when the tires are cold. Your owner’s manual will tell you what the pressure should be. Just remember to check once a month or when the temperature drops significantly.
Don’t forget the spare! Check the air pressure in the spare and make sure the jack works in case of an emergency.
Fall Car Care Tips: Precipitation
For most of us, the change in season means rain and/or ice and snow (and sometimes all three at once!). Since 90% of driving decisions are based on how well you see the road, it’s essential that you see clearly. Now’s the perfect time to change your wipers blades so that they’re working at full capacity when water in any form hits your windshield.
“It’s essential that you see clearly.”
Changing windshield wipers is easy and inexpensive so don’t wait! Avoid the streaking and smearing that are at best a nuisance and at worst a danger.
Fall Car Care Tips: Your Brakes
Making sure your brakes are working well is essential this time of year because there’s a lot less light and a lot more precipitation. Getting them checked is especially important if they’re squeaking or you’re experiencing any problems mentioned here.
Even if you’re not currently experiencing problems but you’ve driven 35,000-45,000 miles, you should get your brake pads and brake clips examined to make sure they’re working the way they should. Be particularly vigilant if you’re planning to drive through hilly and mountainous regions where early snow and ice are more likely.
Fall Car Care Tips: Lights
Fewer hours of daylight also mean you and everyone else on the road need help seeing the road, so it’s essential to check your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals.
If you find any that are burned out, replace them at home or take your car in to a mechanic. You should also periodically clean road grime from all lenses to make sure you’re visible to other drivers.
Fall Car Care Tips: Your Battery
The last thing you want is a dead battery, so if you can’t remember the last time you had it tested, it pays to go into a shop to make sure it’s charging at the correct rate. DIYers can do some easy routine maintenance at home by scraping corrosion away from posts and cable connections and cleaning surfaces.
“The last thing you want is a dead battery.”
Remember, keeping the battery clean ensures the flow of current stays strong and even, which helps keep your car running smoothly.
Fall Car Care Tips: Heater & Defroster
It’s so much better to check (and if needed fix) the heater and defroster BEFORE you need them.
Top Off Fluids
Low prices are great; low fluid levels aren’t. Start by checking your anti-freeze and then move on to checking and changing brake fluid (if needed), along with other fluids, from oil to transmission and power steering and windshield wiper fluid.