October 3, 2013 6:57 pm
October is Fall Car Care Month, so use it as an excuse to make sure your vehicle is ready for the harsh winter weather ahead. Taking a few simple steps now can save you the headaches and cost of an emergency breakdown later, says the Car Care Council.
Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, the Car Care Council recommends the following proactive steps to make sure your car is ready for winter driving.
Battery – Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it's wise to check the battery and charging system. Because batteries don't always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.
Heater, Defrosters and Wiper Blades – Check that the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system are working properly as heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons, such as defrosting. Wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don't properly clean your windshield should be replaced. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months. When changing the blades, be sure to also check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir.
Tires – Check the tires, including the tire pressure and tread depth. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots. 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 as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.
Brakes – Have the brake system checked, including brake linings, rotors and drums. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.
"Getting your vehicle ready for winter while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventive maintenance that helps ensure safety, reliability and fewer unexpected repairs when severe winter weather strikes," says Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.