October is Fall Car Care Month, and the Car Care Council reminds motorists that checking their vehicles before the temperatures drop is a sensible way to avoid being stranded out in the cold and the unexpected expense of emergency repairs.
“The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather. Winter magnifies existing problems like hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Whether you perform the check or maintenance yourself or go to the repair shop, it’s a small investment of time and money to ensure peace of mind, and help avoid the cost and hassle of a breakdown during severe weather.”
The Car Care Council recommends the following Fall Car Care Month checklist to make sure your vehicle is ready for cold winter weather ahead.
Heating, Wipers & Lights
- Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly.
- Consider winter wiper blades and use cold-weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
- Check to see that all exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.
Tires & Brakes
- Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure of all tires, including the spare. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads.
- During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
- Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
Gas, Oil & Filters
- Keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the cold weather to prevent moisture from forming in gas lines and possibly freezing.
- Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate.
- Check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
System Checks – Charging, Cooling & Exhaust
- Have the battery and charging system checked, as cold weather is hard on batteries.
- Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
- Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
Pack the Essentials
- Make sure that your ice scraper and snow brush are accessible and ready to use.
- Stock an emergency kit with jumper cables, a flashlight, blankets, extra clothes, bottled water, nonperishable food and a first aid kit with any needed medication.
- Order a free copy of the recently-updated 80-page Car Care Guide for your glove box at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.