How Do I Prepare My Car for Fall?
It’s important to check out your car as the seasons change. Summer heat will quickly give way to cooler temperatures, and the fall months are a great time to prepare your vehicle for the chilly season ahead. Here are some easy steps you can take this fall to keep your vehicle running well throughout the winter and beyond.
1. Check Your Car’s Fluids
Your vehicle requires numerous fluids to run correctly. While some fluids eventually run out with regular use, other fluid levels only go down if there’s a leak. Check the coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, wiper fluid, and power steering fluid. In addition to replacing or topping off fluids as needed, look for signs that a repair may be needed to address leaks.
2. Change the Oil
While checking your car’s other fluid levels, take a look to see if your next next oil change is due. If your car doesn’t have an oil monitor, you can use the dipstick to check the engine oil’s clarity, thickness, and level.
3. Replace Belts and Hoses
A quick look under the hood may reveal that some belts and hoses are cracked, glazed, frayed, or worn down in other ways. It’s important to replace worn belts and hoses before you find yourself stranded on the side of the road.
4. Check Your Tires
Your tires need to be properly inflated and have a deep enough tread to navigate across slick roads during fall and winter. Now is the time to check your tire pressure, and remember to rotate your tires as recommended to ensure they wear more evenly. If your tire tread is dangerously low, you should replace your tires before winter.
5. Inspect your Brakes
Have you noticed screeching, grinding, or slippage when you step on the brake pedal? Has it been a while since your last brake inspection? Slippery roads make it more difficult to slow and stop your vehicle, so schedule a brake inspection soon.
6. Check Your Car’s Heater
Chilly temperatures often arrive quickly. You may be using your car’s AC system one day and the heater and defroster the next day. With this in mind, try turning on your car’s heater before cooler temperatures arrive. Simply put your hand in front of the vents to ensure hot air is blowing.
7. Test Your Car’s Lights
Between the shorter winter days and gloomier weather, you will rely on your vehicle’s headlights, taillights, and brake lights more as summer fades into fall and then winter. Replace worn or burnt-out bulbs as needed.
8. Get Your Battery Tested
If your battery is a few years old, it might be time to plan for its replacement. The best time to replace a battery is before it completely runs out of power, or else, you’ll need someone to jump it for you. Your mechanic can do a battery test to see how much life is left in your battery and if a replacement is needed soon.
9. Stock Your Vehicle for Colder Weather
Are you prepared for the possibility of being stranded during cold weather conditions? Ensure that your vehicle is stocked with a flashlight, a blanket, gloves, jumper cables, an ice scraper, bottled water, a few non-perishable snacks, and a first aid kit.
10. Upgrade Your Floor Mats
You will likely track leaves, rain, and mud into your car this fall. All-weather mats can help you keep your car clean on the inside.
11. Consider Buying Your Next Car
Finally, colder weather makes it harder for cars to start – especially if they are older and already have underlying mechanical issues. If your car is older and less reliable, it may be time to upgrade to a more dependable vehicle. It’s easier to shop for a car before it gets too cold outside.