Now consider the fall / winter auto maintenance
September may not seem like an ideal month to winter your vehicle, but I could argue that it is the perfect month for this service.
Too many motorists abandon fall / winter auto maintenance until the temperature drops below freezing or until the first snowfall.
If you are one of those procrastinators, I urge you to get your vehicle serviced as soon as possible. One of the advantages of doing it now is to avoid the rush and delays in service departments. When temperatures are below zero, maintenance services are saved and wait times can be long.
In consideration of fall / winter auto maintenance, here are some key things that should be checked to ensure your vehicle is running safely and efficiently:
Tires: Winter tires have special compounds that provide better traction on cold and icy surfaces than summer and all-season tires. They also reduce downtime and offer resistance to hydroplaning. New car dealers sell competitively priced winter tires for all makes and models, and they also offer tire storage. Make sure your spare tire is properly inflated and check tire pressure regularly throughout the year. Improperly inflated tires increase tire wear and fuel consumption.
Brakes: Have an authorized automotive technician check your brakes, brake fluid, and wheel alignment. Excessive brake wear can result from misalignment of the wheels. Failed brakes can damage the brake discs, calipers and suspension, which will cost more to repair. If your brakes show excessive wear, replace them.
Heater / defroster: Now is a good time to check your car’s heater and defroster. If these systems take too long to operate, the heater controls could be clogged or broken, or the thermostat could be faulty. If you suspect any of these symptoms with your heater / defroster, get it serviced.
Lights: Driving a vehicle with faulty lights poses a safety risk. Check all of your exterior lights, including headlights, taillights, parking lights, brake lights, and emergency turn signals. Replace broken lights. Also, don’t ignore the dashboard warning lights. A red light requires immediate attention while an amber light indicates a problem that needs to be resolved quickly.
Windscreen wipers : Poor visibility is the cause of many dangerous driving situations and collisions. Replace worn wiper blades so that your vision is not impaired. This is especially important in winter driving. Some experts recommend changing the wiper blades every year. Consider installing winter wiper blades, which are more reliable than standard wipers in harsh conditions. If your windshield is cracked, it should be replaced because you will wear out your wipers faster. Also, make sure that your wiper fluid is topped up and that you carry a spare jug or two in your trunk.
Drums: It’s no fun finding out you’ve got a bad battery, especially on a freezing cold morning when you need to get to work. A certified technician will determine the strength of your battery and check for loose cables and signs of corrosion.
Cooling system: This check is a must at this time of year; a faulty cooling system can cause overheating and engine damage. This maintenance procedure consists of checking the fluid levels (coolant / antifreeze), the radiator pressure cap and hose, the fan and its blades, the drive belt and internal leaks. Make sure your coolant is tested not to freeze at -45 C.
Most new car dealers offer fall / winter maintenance packages that include many, if not all, of the aforementioned services.
Arrange to have your vehicle serviced before the snow and cold arrive to ensure your safety and maintain the value of your vehicle.