How Do I Prepare My Car for Fall?
It’s important to routinely check out your car throughout the year and especially as the seasons change.
Summer heat is quickly beginning to give way to cooler temperatures. This is a great time to prepare your vehicle for the chilly season ahead with shorter days and longer nights.
Here are some easy steps you can take this fall to keep your vehicle running well and ensure it can take you through the cold fall months and beyond.
1. Check Fluid Levels
Your vehicle requires numerous fluids across its many moving components to run correctly. While some fluids eventually run out with regular use, other fluid levels should only go down if there’s a leak.
Be sure to check the coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, wiper fluid and power steering fluid in your regular vehicle maintenance plan this fall. In addition to replacing or topping off fluids as needed, look for signs of wear on the vehicle where fluids are located. This will help you find and address leaks.
2. Change the Oil
While checking your car’s other fluid levels, take a look to see if your 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.
If you are unsure when the last time your vehicle had an oil change was, now is a great time to schedule the service. There are many places that can even do it in 20 minutes or less, perfect for your busy schedule.
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 are like the shoes of your vehicle. They need to be properly inflated and have a deep enough tread to navigate across slick roads during fall and winter.
Now is the perfect time to check your tire pressure. If you are unsure what pressure your tires should be inflated to, you can find that information in the owner’s manual, in the driver’s side door jam and some tires even have it right on the side wall.
Also, 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?
Fall and winter oftentimes give way to slippery roads that 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. In the early fall, you may be using your car’s heater in the morning and AC system in the afternoon.
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. If it isn’t, now is a great time to get the system checked out by a mechanic before it gets colder outside.
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. These are fairly cheap and simple to fix, with many bulbs costing less than $50 for a pair at auto parts stores.
8. Get Your Battery Tested
Is your car not starting as easy in cooler weather as it did in the summer? This could be in part because of an old or uncharged battery.
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.
This video can help you get started and give you a few ideas of what you can pick up at a local hardware store for an emergency kit in your vehicle.
10. Upgrade Your Floor Mats
As the weather turns and leaves begin to fall, you will likely track leaves, rain, and mud into your vehicle. All-weather mats can help you keep your car clean on the inside. Just be sure to vacuum and clean them regularly to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.
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.