October is Fall Car Care Month.
Fall is the perfect time to perform various maintenance tasks on your vehicle. It lands between the two seasons that are the harshest on your vehicle, summer and winter. You can perform tasks that will help it recover from the heat of summer and prepare it for the cold of winter. In the Phoenix Metro area, winter temperatures may not be too extreme, but it is good to plan ahead anyway; especially if there is a chance you’ll take a trip up North or visit relatives in a cooler climate this winter.
Here is our list of 12 maintenance items you should perform on your vehicle this fall:
The harsh heat of the summer months can cause battery fluid to evaporate, damaging the internal structure of the battery. Cold weather is also harsh on a battery, so it is a good idea to check the battery and charging system now. Battery connections should be clean, tight and corrosion free. Batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, if your battery is over three years old you may want to consider replacing it.
- Belts, Hoses, and Filters
Check your belts and hoses for any signs of fraying, cracking or leaking. Replace them if necessary. Make sure all filters (oil, gas, air, and cabin air) are in good condition.
Use a carnauba-based product to wax your vehicle to help protect the paint from road salts and other winter weather grime. Spray door hinges with a silicone spray so they won’t squeak. Also, consider spraying your locks and weather-stripping to keep doors and trunks from freezing shut.
Have your brakes inspected to make sure they are in proper working order. If something needs attention, don’t delay. Avoiding brake repair is extremely dangerous at any time, but even more so in adverse winter conditions. Also, putting off brake repair could damage your rotors which is considerably more expensive to repair.
- Cooling System
Check your owner’s manual for the proper coolant mixture, which is usually a 60/40 or 50/50 antifreeze-to-water ratio. Make sure the antifreeze is at the proper level and add more if needed. If it looks like it is in poor condition, have a flush-and-fill done. Check radiator hoses and replace or tighten if needed.
- Emergency Kit
Your vehicle should always contain a roadside emergency kit. In the fall, make sure that you have added items that will aid you if you end up on the side of the road in winter conditions. Jumper cables, flares, ice scrapers, road salt, flashlights, flares, blankets, first aid materials and snacks are all good to include in your kit.
- Fuel Tank
Plan on keeping the gas tank at least half full. This will limit condensation in the tank which can freeze in the fuel line in cold winter conditions. It also will ensure you don’t end up stranded in cold weather due to lack of fuel.
The heater and defroster work off of the cooling system, so while you are checking your radiator hoses, inspect the heater hoses as well. If you see coolant on the floorboard, this indicates that you have a leaky heater core that should be fixed. You should also clear the ducts of any leaves and debris.
Check your oil level, and add oil if necessary. You should change your oil around every 5,000-6,000 miles. So, if it has been a while change it out.
Make sure you keep your tires properly inflated, cold air condenses so check regularly. You can find your recommended psi on the sticker found on the doorjamb, or in the glove box. You will also want to maintain the best traction possible on icy or slick road conditions. If your tires are worn you should replace them as soon as possible. If you aren’t sure, try the penny test. Don’t forget to check your spare. Also, practice fitting snow chains before you head into winter conditions.
You may want to consider getting a tune-up, especially if it has been around 30,000 miles since your last one. At the very least, visually inspect your distributor cap, rotor, spark plugs, and wires.
- Windshield and Lights
Visibility is important in the fall and winter months. The days are shorter and the nights longer, and there is always the chance that you are going to find yourself driving in inclement weather. You need to take precautions to make sure you can see, and that you are seen. Check that all exterior lights are working and that your headlights are properly aimed. Check that your wiper blades are in good condition. Check for deterioration and change if needed. If you think you will be driving in winter weather, maybe consider using winter/snow blades. Also, make sure your washer fluid reservoir is full and maybe use a fluid formulated for winter. And, remember to never put hot water on a cold windshield.
If you would like help preparing your vehicle for the cooler months ahead, call Virginia Auto Service, (602) 266-0200, and schedule an appointment. We are happy to be of service.