Some of the nation is going through a heatwave, some of us are experiencing snow and frigid temps, fall is an odd time. But we all know that cooler temperatures, snow, rain, and possibly some unpleasant weather is heading our way. Now is the time to check over your car and make sure you are ready for the crazy weather that is ahead. Some of these you can do yourself, some you may need to take your dealership for a once over. But the bottom line is, now is the time to do any routine maintenance that you may have been neglecting. Here are 10 things you need to check your car for before that first snowfall or deep freeze.
Belts & Hoses
Extreme temperatures put stress on our belts and hoses. The heat and humidity can make them expand and the frigid temps can make them brittle. Now is the time to have your mechanic take a once overlook under the hood and see if there are any belts or hoses that need to be replaced. They will look for cracks, leaks, and wears in the belts and hoses. You want to ensure that there are no signs of splitting, fraying, or glazing. You do not want to be stranded because your belt broke when the temperatures dip.
You should be checking this every time you have an oil change. But in case you haven’t been the most diligent now is the time to be diligent and take a closer look. This would include windshield washer fluids, transmission fluids, coolant, brake fluids, and power steering fluids. All are very important for ensuring that your car runs smoothly. If you live in colder climates now is the time to start switching your windshield wiper fluid over for the type that is less likely to freeze. Washer fluid is important for maintaining visibility but if it’s frozen and it cannot help get all that road gunk off your windshield. Transmission fluid is important for cooling. Coolant regulates the engine’s temperature, while brake fluid serves as a lubricant, preventing corrosion. Power steering fluid is crucial for operating the vehicle. So, check those fluids, get any replaced that need to be replaced and top off those that need topping off.
If you have been holding off on getting new tires, hold off no more! Now is the time to make your appointment and get those new tires on. Not sure if you need new tires? Check out our article on when should I get new tires? You also want to make sure you rotate your tires so that your tires wear evenly. Have your tire pressure checked, often in the fall, we need to add air to our tires. Cold air makes air compress so you could be driving around on low tires and not know it. Maintaining proper tire pressure is very important. Make sure you have the proper tires. This time of year comes with the potential of snow and ice. Consider if you live in a location where you need snow tires.
Prepare for Cold Weather
Getting stranded on the side of the road at any time of the year is not fun. As the weather turns cooler, you especially need to be prepared for a roadside emergency. Be prepared if a situation like this were to occur. Stock your vehicle with the following items:
First aid kit
You can also check out our roadside emergency checklist to ensure you have everything you may need.
Check Your Oil
Oil changes can really sneak up on you! I know for me, I’m getting my oil changed about every 6 weeks. If you are getting close to needing one, make the appointment now so it can easily fit into your schedule before you get busy with holiday parties.
Check Your Heater
This one is simple and one you can do yourself. Turn the heat on and make sure it’s blowing hot air, doesn’t smell off and works. You need heat in the winter to defrost your windows and to keep warm. If you hear a weird noise or the air isn’t coming out as strong as it used to, make an appointment and get it checked out.
Check the Breaks
I have my breaks checked every time I get my oil changed. But if you haven’t been having them check the breaks now is the time to do it. If you have felt any pulsing or heard any squealing when you press on the breaks be sure to mention that to the mechanic. Brakes are crucial for safe driving. Cold weather heightens brake problems since the roads have the potential of becoming slippery from snow and ice.
Headlights and Other Lights
It’s very easy to overlook a burnt-out light. They are on the outside of the car so we don’t see them. You’ll need to grab a friend or family member to help with this one. Have one person sit in the car and turn on the lights, pump the breaks, flick the blinkers, turn on the high beams and any other light your car may have. The other person is going to be walking around the outside making sure the lights are working. If there’s a bulb burnt out head to the local auto part store and pick it up or make an appointment at your dealership and have them replace it.
This one is very important. Cold weather can zap the life out of your car battery and as batteries age, they get weaker. Most car batteries are meant to last 3-5 years. Next time you are in the dealership have them check the charge of your battery. Also, check your connections and remove any buildup that may have formed so the connections are strong. If your car needs a new battery, take your car to a mechanic to get your battery replaced. The battery is critical to start your vehicle.
I am a huge fan of WeatherTech mats. They are custom made to fit your vehicle’s model, giving you complete coverage. They will protect your carpet from all the sludge and mud that will be tracked into your car this season plus if you have kids or eat in the car they catch all the spills. I have had mine for 5 years and I love them! I do take them to the car wash and have them pressure washed twice a year to get all the dirt, it’s so worth it.
These are just my suggested things you should check for before the fall fully sets in. Be sure to check out our other winter driving tips.