Fall is the time of year to get your car all cleaned up from summer fun and prepped for winter (which seems to be rapidly approaching in Connecticut!). The decrease in temperatures and increase in moisture, especially damaging moisture like ice storms and snow of winter, make right now the best time to get your car prepared for the coming months, before any of that bad weather sets in. For big repairs and maintenance, be sure to visit your local auto repair shop, but there are plenty of small things you can do to make sure that larger problems do not occur in the future.
- New wiper blades. If you live somewhere that gets even some rain and heat during the summer, you are probably in need of new wiper blades. After the old blades have been baked in the summer sun it is likely you’ll need new blades. You’ll want to do this before the snow or cold sleet arrives – there is nothing worse than wipers that barely work or need replacing in the middle of a storm. Most people do not realize that they need new wiper blades every year—but it’s one of the least expensive and most effective changes you can make to improve your fall and winter driving experience. Installing them during the fall means they will be ready to go for winter—and don’t neglect that rear wiper blade, either.
- Make sure your spare tire is ready to rumble. Whether you have a donut or a full-sized spare, now is the right time to make sure that it is fully inflated and without damage. Use your tire pressure gauge to make sure that it is at the right level of pressure, per your car’s manual or what the tire itself says it should be filled to. Getting a flat in the middle of summer is one thing, it’s a completely different situation in the middle of a cold, snowy storm.
- Check the levels of all your tires. As cooler temperatures roll in, tire pressure will naturally decrease, as the air in the tires contracts. That means you will likely need to fill up your tires up as winter approaches. Use your pressure gauge to test all of your tires and make sure to fill them up to the right level of air. Newer cars will tell you if one of their tires is low and you can find the proper PSI for your tires either in the manual or on a sticker inside the door jamb on the driver’s side (as well as the walls of the tires). This is also a good time to check the tread depth of your tires. In winter weather, you want as much tread as possible.
- Top off those fluids. Again, some newer cars will tell you your exact fluid levels. On older models, you have to do your checking the old fashioned way. Top off any that are lacking, especially your antifreeze and brake fluid, as these two feed two of the most important features that your car has in the winter—defrosting and responsive brakes.
- New air filters. These air filters need to be replaced twice a year anyway—so why not now? If your air filter isn’t regularly replaced it can affect how fuel efficient your vehicle is and can even make it so your car emits more damaging emissions. This is one of the easiest problems to fix. In most cases, you don’t even need tools!
- Check and replace your battery. This is obviously not necessary every year, but if you haven’t had a new battery in a while (or ever), before the cold season sets in is likely the best time to make sure you do not need a new one. Open your hood at look at your battery. If the connections are corroding, clean them off with a brush (while the car is off, obviously), and make sure everything is snugly connected. If you’ve been having trouble with your battery, replace it before the walk to the auto parts store is one that you have to take in two feet of snow.
- Make sure your defrosters are working. You’ve likely already had some frost on your car in the early morning that easily burns off once the sun comes up. Use this opportunity to make sure your car’s defrosters are in perfect working order, before it has some heavy duty defrosting to do.
- Replace your headlights. In the winter, the days are short and overcast. That means you will be driving with the headlights on more than ever before. In order to make sure that they are ready to work overtime, test out your lights, make sure they are bright and clear. If they are not, replace the bulbs and clean off the surface so that you get maximum brightness.
There you have it – your ‘Fall Car Care Checklist’. Enjoy the fall and be safe!
Frank’s Auto Credit