October is Fall Car Care Month and a great time to prepare your vehicle for the coming winter.
Winterizing your vehicle is really just continuing maintenance. Harsh winter weather can worsen an existing problem or create new ones when regular maintenance hasn’t been done throughout the year. Regular maintenance inspections by professional automotive technicians will catch a small problem before it becomes a safety issue or costly repair. A prepared car for winter is a safe car.
In the Fall we recommend the following to prepare your vehicle for Winter driving:
Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. Just because the weather is cool, your vehicle can still overheat and cause engine damage. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. Refill your windshield wiper fluid with a de-icing fluid which will melt ice off the windshield and will not freeze. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries. The battery should be securely mounted and the connection should be clean, tight and corrosion free. If the battery is three years old or more, it should be tested and replaced if necessary. And always keep a set of jumper cables in your trunk in case of an emergency.
Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. Tires complete that essential link between your car’s suspension and the road; tires are responsible for translating the driver’s intentions directly towards vehicle performance. A quality set of tires will offer the responsiveness necessary for obstacle avoidance; short stopping distances that aid panic braking situations, and road-holding grip under both dry and wet conditions. The right set of all season tires correctly fitted to your car and your driving needs will make driving in winter weather much safer. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
Be diligent about changing the oil and filter every 3,000 miles. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Harmful deposits in your oil can cause a build up on engine valves, causing a decrease in engine performance and gas mileage. You should regularly check your vehicle fluids such as brake, transmission, and coolant. Over time harmful deposits can accumulate in fluids and cause corrosion in vehicle parts such as the brake system. Also check the engine, fuel, air, and transmission filters. The engine air filter is like your lungs. If your filter is dirty it will prevent clean air circulating to the engine which will cause a decrease in engine performance.
Pay attention to your mileage. If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling. At 60,000 and 90,000 most vehicles require some significant maintenance such as replacing timing belt/water pump and spark plugs. See your owner’s manual for the suggested maintenance but let Titan Auto & Tire perform a maintenance inspection to see what needs to be done. If we find a concern we are happy to take you back to the vehicle work area to show you worn parts, dirty fluid, and explain why we are recommending service.
Have the brakes checked. This braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
Check to see that exterior and interior lights and headlights work and aimed properly.
We also recommend keeping the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Drivers should check the tire pressure of the spare in the trunk and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snow brush, jumper cables, flashlight, and flares. Also keep emergency phone numbers handy such as a good towing company should you be stranded.
Remember no question is a stupid question. If your vehicle is making an odd noise, has a smell, or you feel something is wrong while driving immediately call Titan Auto & Tire. Properly maintaining your vehicle will keep you safe on the road.