Fall Car Maintenance Tips

Fall Car Maintenance Tips

Fall is in the air and it's time to start thinking about getting your car ready for the changing season, too. Below are ten maintenance tips that help keep your vehicle running in tip top shape so you can enjoy those great fall road trips.

Maintenance Tip #1 – Battery Life

The battery is the heart of your vehicle, and if it’s not running properly, your engine won’t start and you won’t be going anywhere. The summer heat and winter cold can decrease your battery life, so it’s important to check cables and connections. You may not get a warning icon on your dashboard, and this website has several tips on how to check your battery, information on the types of batteries there are, and a glossary of terms, and a lot more. You can also find a local auto retailer who can check for you and most are free of charge.

Maintenance Tip #2 – Fluids

The key to keeping your car in great running conditions includes maintaining the six main liquids: oil, brake fluid, coolant, windshield washer fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid. Oil and transmission fluid helps lubricate your car’s moving parts and works like the engine coolant to keep the internal temperature from getting too hot or freezing. Brake and power steering fluids help you drive safely and keeps important seals and hoses from breaking. AAA is nice to have in an emergency, but maintaining vehicle fluids can be done easily and safely at home or at a nearby service center.

Maintenance Tip #3 – Tire Pressure

The best time of year to check your tires is in October or before the first snow falls. Fall is when your tire pressure can drop as temperatures do, and you won’t be able to enjoy those long drives admiring the beautiful autumn colors if you’re stranded on the side of the road changing a tire or waiting for roadside assistance. Most gas stations offer free air, and you can easily check your owner’s manual to see what PSI (pounds per square inch) your tires should have.

Maintenance Tip #4 – Heater

Even though it’s a little while until the first snow falls, it’s better to get your vehicle ready for the changing seasons, especially your heating system. There are three main items to check to make sure your heater is ready for use. First, make sure the antifreeze is fresh and full. Your radiator will work better when circulating warm antifreeze to make your inside compartment cozy. Second, listen for any unusual noises that may indicate you have a hose that’s about ready to go or that needs replaced. And third, always check your air conditioner to make sure it’s working because your heating system uses the conditioned air to help defrost your windshield and windows. Following these easy tips will help you stay warm and comfortable as the temperatures begin to fall.

Maintenance Tip #5 – Accessories

Having a few necessary accessories in your car this fall will help make your travels be smooth and safe. An emergency kit for unexpected weather changes or other situations that happen. The National Safety Council has suggested that the following are good to have on hand: jumper cables, a small toolkit, emergency flashlight, first aid kit, a cell phone charger, drinking water, and some energy bars that could sustain you for a while if help is delayed.

Maintenance Tip #6 – Brakes

Regular maintenance of your rotors, brake pads, and calipers all year round will help you stop on a dime. It’s especially helpful to check your braking system as the leaves start turning colors because winter and icy roads are just around the corner. Any unusual sounds like squeaking or grinding or your brake pedal going down to the floor is a sign that you need to have your brakes looked at ASAP. Make sure your brake fluid is full and have it replaced with new fluid when you get your oil changed as it may have moisture or contaminants in it that will affect your stopping capability.

Maintenance Tip #7 - Lights

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe this fall by making sure your lights are in tip top working condition so visibility is clear. Check the bulbs in headlights and make sure the road grime is cleaned off. Remember that you have many different kinds of lights outside and inside of your vehicle. Besides your low and high headlight beams, front and rear tail lights, your signal indicators, brake lights, and hazard lights need checked, too. And don’t forget your interior and dashboard lights, although they should be used cautiously when traveling to not distract the driver.