Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance October 8, 2014

Don’t Fall Behind on Prepping Your Vehicle for the Cold

Just as squirrels are gathering their acorns and you’re digging out jackets and scarves– your vehicle needs preparation for the coming winter too. This is why October has been named Fall Car Care Month. Setting aside a small amount of time now to prepare your vehicle for winter weather is a wise way to avoid being stranded in the cold.

Whether you elect to prep your vehicle yourself or let our expert technicians take care of it for you, the checklist below outlines recommendations to help give motorists peace of mind that their vehicle is ready to safely handle the harsh months ahead.

Fall Car Care Checklist

Visibility: 90% of driving decisions are based solely on vision*. Darker nights and heavy snow make ensuring proper visibility a number one priority.

  • Check heaters and defrosters to make sure they are operating correctly.
  • Inspect wiper blades for cracking, squeaking, skipping or streaking. Generally, wiper blades should be replaced every six months. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold-weather washer fluid.
  • Test all exterior and interior lights (including hazards) to make sure they are operational.

Traction and Braking: Proper tires and good brakes can be the difference between getting into an accident or avoiding one–especially on slippery winter roads.

  • Measure the tread depth of tires to ensure ample grip. Consider replacing tires when only 4/32” of tread remains as this is the point when traction begins to be compromised.
  • Inflate your tires to the proper tire pressure and continue to check tire pressure weekly, as dropping temperatures tend to cause fluctuations in tire pressure. Don’t forget the spare!
  • Have brakes inspected to be sure both rotors and pads have enough thickness to get you through the season.

Get Started and Run Smoothly: Nothing is worse than a stalled car in a freezing parking lot.

  • Have your battery and charging system tested by a certified technician. When temperatures become colder, turning over an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under more favorable conditions**.
  • Follow your recommended oil change interval outlined in your owner’s manual. Engine oil thickens in cold weather and dirty oil can spell trouble when this happens.
  • Inspect belts and hoses as changing weather tends to cause them to crack, tear or swell.
  • Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a rule of thumb, this should be done every two years***.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the cold weather to prevent condensation build-up in gas lines and possibly freezing.
  • Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather when windows are closed and idling engines to warm up cars are common.

Be Prepared: Keep the essentials handy in case of a sudden storm or road side emergency.

  • Have an ice scraper and snow brush accessible at all times. An extra pair of gloves might come in handy when you’re clearing your car of snow and ice.
  • Stock an emergency kit with jumper cables, a flashlight, blankets, extra clothes, bottled water, nonperishable food and a first aid kit with any needed medication.

*Vision and Driving – NIH

**http://corporate.interstatebatteries.com/winterizing_batteries/

***How Often Should I Change Engine Coolant? – Cars.com

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