If fall is your favorite season, you’re not alone. The skies are clear, the air is crisp, and the leaves are beautiful. The holidays, and cherished get-togethers with family and friends, aren’t far away. Unfortunately, icy weather is also just around the corner. Fall is the time to make sure that you and your car will be ready for winter and much more difficult driving conditions.
Brakes – Here in central Virginia, late fall will usher in cold weather and icy roads. You’ll want your brakes to be working at their best – even more so when winter arrives. If you’ve been hearing squeaking or screeching when you apply your brakes, then its time to schedule an inspection from a professional. Same if your brakes have haven’t been stopping you as well lately. Another worthwhile check is to inspect the brake pads; if your pads are less than ¼” deep, then you should bring your car in for some new ones.
Tire tread – Like your brakes, your tires need to be at their best to perform well in poor conditions. So, before winter arrives, be sure to check the tread on your tires. It’s easy to do – even if you’re not a mechanic. Simply take a penny and insert it into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you’ve got enough tread to drive safely, Lincoln’s head will disappear into the groove; if you can still see Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
Tire pressure – Air condenses when it becomes cold, and that includes the air inside your tires. So a tire that was inflated to perfect pressure in summer may become dangerously low in the winter. Fall is the perfect time to pick up a tire pressure gauge if you don’t already have one; it’s also a great time to get in the habit of checking your tires before you drive, to make sure they’re properly inflated. Not sure what the right pressure is? Look up your tire’s brand and number online.
Heater/defroster – In summer, you can probably get by without having a properly-functioning heater or defroster. In winter, you can’t. In winter, you and your car will have to contend with rain, frost, ice, and perhaps even snow. Without defrosting, keeping your windows clear will be difficult; driving safely may be impossible. Fall is the time to make sure that your heater/defroster works properly, and is able to keep you and your family safe.
Battery – When the weather gets cold, gasoline can be harder to burn and oil can be cold and gooey. As a result, your engine might need a bigger jolt to get moving. If your battery isn’t fully charged, it might not be up to the challenge. The smart play is to have your battery inspected by a local technician before it gets too cold, and before you start running the risk of being stranded when your car doesn’t start. I trust Richmond’s Aarrow Transmission – my go-to car repair shop – to perform thorough inspections and provide effective solutions for my car.
Antifreeze – No fall car care checklist would be complete without checking your antifreeze. While oil can get gooey in the cold, water can become… you guessed it: ice. If the water in your engine freezes, your engine will freeze, too. Antifreeze lowers the freezing point of the water in your engine to a much lower temperature, greatly decreasing the chance that freezing will occur. Checking antifreeze is easy, and so is adding it. If you have a few free minutes, you can do it on your own. Or ask your local mechanic to do it when you bring your car in for a check this fall.