Fall is here! And seasonal changes can affect your vehicle in a multitude of ways. Therefore, it’s important to prepare for the transition to the cooler (and cold) weather ahead. You’ll want to keep up on regular vehicle maintenance, while also paying close attention to season-specific car care tasks.
Here are some essential fall vehicle maintenance tips to make sure your vehicle is ready for the rest of fall and the approaching winter weather.
- Check the Fluids. Checking your vehicle’s fluids is one of the most critical car care routines. The various fluids lubricate, cool, and perform other vital functions that help keep your car running and driving. Take a few minutes to check your vehicles fluids each month. If you have any questions or concerns regarding how to check your vehicles fluids, you can read an article that we published on October 5th titled "How to Check the 6 Essential Fluids in Your Car."
- Inspect the Tires. We get it — tires are about as exciting as an afternoon watching paint dry. However, that doesn’t mean they can be ignored. Tires are super important because they affect the braking ability, handling performance, and overall safety of your vehicle. Take a few moments to inspect your vehicle’s tires to ensure they’re in good condition. You will want to look for any damage to the tread & sidewall, check your tread depth, as well as the tire pressure.
- Make Sure All of the Lights Work. Sadly, the long summer days have come to an end...and it’s getting darker earlier each day. The best way to check your lights is to get a friend (spouse, neighbor, etc.) to help you make sure all of your car’s exterior lights (including the brake lights, head lights, and your reverse lights) are working correctly. A non-functional light usually indicates a burnt-out bulb. You will want to replace your light bulbs in pairs (if one has gone out, the other is sure to go out soon!).
- Check the Wiper Blades. The fall season often brings rain and sometimes even snow. You’ll want to make sure your car’s wiper blades are in good shape to deal with these conditions. A good set of blades should produce a streak-free sweep and leave the windshield clear. Replace the wiper blades if they do not perform well. You’ll also want to consider the washer fluid. There are winter blends, which are designed to resist freezing, and summer blends for warmer weather. When the temperatures start to drop, you’ll want to make sure you have a winter blend in your car’s washer fluid reservoir.
- Inspect the Brakes. You (or your mechanic) should check the brakes a least twice a year to ensure they’re in good condition. Right now, before the snow starts to fly, is the perfect time to take a peek! How do you know when your brake pads are worn out? When there’s 4mm of friction material remaining, most professionals recommend replacing the brake pads (and usually replacing or resurfacing the brake discs). A reading of 3mm or less indicates the brake pads are a safety hazard and should be replaced immediately.
- Make Sure the Heater is Working. If you’re like most drivers, you didn’t turn your car’s heater on at all during the summer. With the cooler weather we have been having, you probably have been using your heater (at least in the morning). But if you haven’t tested in yet this season...please do so NOW! If your heater is on; but you are not getting any hot air, it’s time to see a mechanic to address the issue sooner rather than later.
- Take Care of Any Outstanding Maintenance. Is your car due (or overdue) for service? Then take care of it now. Lack of maintenance is one of the most common—if not the most common—reasons for mechanical breakdowns.
- Address Any Known Problems. Car problems left ignored often snowball into big-time concerns. For example, a leaking radiator hose can lead to a low coolant level, overheating, and catastrophic engine damage. Ignoring issues can also leave you stranded on a chilly fall morning. Address any known problems now to prevent further headaches.
Right now, it is also a good time to get your vehicle accessorized for the approaching winter with new floor mats and seat covers. You should also keep an emergency kit in your vehicle just in case it breaks down and include such items as a warm blanket, an extra coat, scarf, hat, gloves, emergency road flares, and a flashlight (just to name a few items).
We hope that you find these tips useful. And as always … safe journeys on your trips around town. Big City Cars is located at 4910 Lima Road, just down from Costco. Or give us a call today at (260) 212-1111. We look forward to helping you get into a quality preowned vehicle that fits your lifestyle & budget.