Everyone is excited for the holidays come December, and, while, Southern California isn’t known for its distinct seasons, we tend to look forward to the colder weather as well. There is one part of the family that doesn’t always look forward to winter, however… your trusty car.
Once Halloween and Thanksgiving come around, the weather starts cooling down, and you should be paying a bit more attention to your car’s maintenance so that you are protected during the winter.
Keep the End Game in Mind
How long do you want your car to last? Most of us can’t easily afford to buy a new car when our old one starts showing signs of wear and tear. Regular, routine maintenance can help improve your gas mileage, reduce pollution (did you get your smog check?), and catch minor problems before they become major disasters for you and your bank account.
Know Your Car
Have you been sticking to your car’s service schedule? If “What service schedule?” just went through your head, you may want to read through your owner’s manual to see what is recommended. You may have missed a lot of regular maintenance, which means your car might not be in as good a shape as you think it is.
Some people are more into cars than others, but it is important that we have at least a basic knowledge of how a car and its various parts work. You never know when this information will be useful. When you are familiar with your car, you can tell when something is off, whether it is how it sounds, how it accelerates, brakes, or steers. Can you tell if your car isn’t braking well because of your brake pads or your tires? You should be able to, for safety. Bald tires are no laughing matter.
Your Auto Holiday Checklist
Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Just because we have a more temperate climate in California, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take winter car maintenance seriously. To help you keep your car happy and functioning during the winter season, here are some tips:
- Replace dirty filters to make your engine more efficient. A dirty engine burns more gasoline.
- Make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition.
- If there is anything wrong with driveability or engine performance, get it repaired before driving in rain or snow. Remember that the most dangerous time to drive on the road is that first rain.
- In below-freezing temperatures, add a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping the gas tank full also helps prevent moisture formation.
- Replace old wiper blades regularly and stock up on windshield washer fluid.
- Change your oil and oil filter regularly, and more often if your driving routine involves frequent short trips or a lot of stop-and-go.
- The cooling system should be flushed and refilled (even if you don’t plan on using it during the winter).
- Have your battery checked. No one wants to be stuck in the rain with a dead battery.
- Check and, if necessary, clean, or replace, all lights and bulbs.
- Have your brakes checked. Just because you think they’re fine doesn’t mean they are.
- Make sure the exhaust system is examined for leaks and problems while the vehicle is on a lift.
- TIRES! Make sure the tread is in good shape and check tire pressure once a month.
- Pay attention to the transmission. Have it checked regularly.
- Always carry an emergency kit in your car: gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, tire chains, a flashlight and extra batteries, a cell phone and extra car charger, water, and some energy bars.