Time to Fall Back Into Your Auto Maintenance Routine
As summer winds down and fall begins in earnest, auto-care experts say that getting your vehicle serviced for cold-weather driving should be high on your list of things to do.
Here are some tips from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) – the nonprofit group that certifies automotive technicians – on preparing your car for winter weather.
* Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules. Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. Do this more often – every 3,000 miles or so – if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
* Get problems such as hard starts, rough idling, stalling and diminished power corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather will make existing problems worse.
* Replace all dirty filters.
* Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keep your gas tank filled to help prevent moisture from forming.
* Have the cooling system flushed and refilled as recommended. Periodically check the level, condition and concentration of the coolant.
* Have a certified auto technician check the tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps and hoses.
* Make sure that the heater and defroster are in good working condition.
* As part of routine battery care, scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces, then re-tighten all connections. If the battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly.
Note that removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data on some newer vehicles, so check your manual. Also, be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid; wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
* Examine the exhaust system for leaks. The trunk and floorboards should be inspected for small holes.
* Examine the tires’ tread and look for uneven wearing and cupping. Also, check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Rotate the tires as recommended.
* Check tire pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before checking them. Don’t forget to check your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
* Prepare for emergencies. Stock your car with gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or cat litter, tire chains, a flashlight and a cell phone. Put a few “high energy” snacks in your glove box, too.