Cooler weather is finally here. You’ve brought out your sweaters and jackets and stored your summer attire. Your wardrobe is all set to enjoy the crisp, cool days but what about your vehicle? Is your car ready for cooler-weather driving?
If you’re not sure if your vehicle’s ready or aren’t sure what needs to be done, here are a few things you’ll want to take care of before you hit the open roads this fall.
How to Get Your Car Ready for Fall Driving
1. Give Your Car a Bath
Chances are your summer driving routes took you to a beach, at least once. Whether it’s sand from a freshwater lake or salt from the ocean air, you’ll want to rinse it off before you start any fall road trips. The salt, sand, and other grime from summer drives can collect on the vehicle’s undercarriage. If left on too long, it can cause corrosion.
To prevent this from happening, rinse all of the salt and other grime off your car. A garden hose can be just as effective as a car wash.
2. Check Tire Pressure
Did you know that every time the temperature fluctuates 10 degrees your tire pressure changes as much as one pound per square inch? This means that when the temperature changes you want to check tire pressure.
If you’re not sure what is recommended for your vehicle, optimal tire pressure will be listed in the owner’s manual. You can also look your vehicle up online or ask a mechanic if the manual is lost.
3. Replace Windshield Wiper Blades
You might not have to replace the windshield wiper blades if they weren’t used during heavy spring and summer downpours. However, if you spent a lot of time parked at the beach the salt air can corrode the rubber blades.
It is recommended that you change the blades every six months. Drivers in colder climates may want to plan on replacing them every fall. The last thing you want is to find out your windshield wipers aren’t effective in the middle of a rain or snowstorm.
4. Check the Oil and Filter
Checking your oil levels should be a part of your regular car maintenance. Depending on the type of oil used, mileage, and driving conditions, it might not need to be changed. If it’s measuring low and still looks clear, it’s okay to just add to the existing oil.
If it’s time to change the oil, often to a lighter-weight one, you also want to replace the filter. Lighter oils are often recommended for fall driving since it can help the engine perform more efficiently in cooler temperatures. A new filter can do what a dirty one can’t; keep the oil clean and debris out of the engine.
5. Change the Air Filter
The air filter is an important component and it’s often overlooked. It prevents dust and other small impurities from entering the cylinders’ combustion chambers. This can lower fuel efficiency and reduce engine performance. Like your oil filter, it should be changed every six months.
6. Flush the Cooling System
Your vehicle’s cooling system should be flushed and refilled every 2-years or 24,000 miles. It’s part of good car maintenance and an easy item to add to your spring car maintenance checklist.
You will need a radiator cleaning product to flush away oil, grease, and collected sediment. After flushing the radiator, refill with a mixture of water and coolant. The percentage of water and coolant will depend on the climate. Severe climates require a higher mixture of coolant than water.
7. Check the Spark Plugs and Battery
This is something you should already be doing regularly. Checking the battery and connections helps ensure that you won’t be stranded. Make sure that the connections are tight and that there aren’t any signs of corrosion. You also want to make sure that the battery housing is solid.
The final thing you want to do before heading off on your first fall drive of the season is to clean out the car’s interior.