It’s All About Maintenance! Especially for Winter

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.

A Checklist For Your Auto Maintenance

Auto maintenance is the most important duty that a vehicle owner has. Any proud car owner can tell you that. If you want your car to live a long life and perform well, then you want to ensuring regular maintenance checks are key. Other than ensuring a lasting life for your vehicle there are also many other reasons to do timely car maintenance. Keep reading to understand why auto maintenance is important. You can also find below a list of the things that go on your checklist to make better keep tabs on this process.

The first and most important reason is safety. Any fault in the car such as worn out tires, faulty brakes or engine issues may not be obvious to the owner until it is too late. Regular maintenance helps get this out of the way and ensures your safety. A well-maintained vehicle also gives better performance and reliability. With regular check-ins at the auto shop, your visit for repairs will reduce. This makes things easier and more cost-effective. Especially because of preventive maintenance costs lesser than actual repairs.

As the old saying goes, “An once of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.” In other words, take care of your vehicle and it will cost you much less to own in the long run. Also, it is much easier to plan and budget for maintenance than it is for when a breakdown happens at the worst time and causing you to be greatly inconvenienced. Not to mention the expense that was not planned and usually at a much higher expense.

Regular maintenance also keeps the car looking fresh and stainless. Dents, scratches, faded paint are also things that can be taken care of during a regular maintenance routine. A well-maintained car is eventually much easier to sell. If you would like the option of being able to sell your car at a good price to be open, then auto maintenance will do that for you.

And finally, all of us are aware that vehicles can emit harmful gasses. A car that has its engines, automotive fluids, and emissions checked regularly causes lesser harm to the environment. Of course, there is always the option of purchasing hybrid automobiles that are environmentally friendly. Few automobile companies such as Tesla, Ford, and Toyota offer this.

Below is a basic checklist for your auto or car maintenance. The table below may not be an exhaustive list. The list can be printed out and used to check with at the auto maintenance workshop before picking up your vehicle. Remember, a well-maintained vehicle means a happier and safer driver behind its wheels.

Items on your checklist

Mark as done/not done

Engine lights

Lights

Tire pressure and condition

Windshield washer fluid

Air filter

Transmission fluid

Battery and cables

Belts

Exhaust

Fuel filter

Hoses

Oil filter

Power steering fluid

Chassis lubrication

Wiper blades

Polish

Antifreeze

Spark plugs

Steering and Suspension

Learn Basic Car Maintenance

It’s amazing how many people get taken for a ride (ha ha) just by taking their car in for a basic service. A lot of people over think the modern technology of their car and believe everything the repair shop tells them. Modern cars really require way less maintenance, even though the basic concept is the same.

With all this power and amenities, most people forget or never knew that it is the same basic internal combustion engine used over a hundred years ago. And, electric and hybrid cars require even less maintenance than conventional automobiles! Learning basic maintenance about your vehicle can save you thousands of dollars over time and minimize potential breakdowns.

The three thousand mile oil change is a thing of past. If you’re still changing your car’s oil every three thousand miles, you’re wasting your money. You need to know what type of oil your car requires and the capacity. You need to know where the oil filter is located. Cheap oil filters will damage your car over time because they can take up to nine seconds longer to achieve maximum flow at startup. If you use one of those quick lube shops, make sure you know what type of oil they will use to refill the crankcase. Make sure you check the level on the dipstick before you leave the shop. Earlier I mentioned that you need to know where the oil filter is located, here’s why, some shops will not change the filter, but will charge you for one, if you mark the old one before you take the car for servicing, you’ll be able to verify that it has been replaced. Most of these shops lose money on the $29.99 oil change. A good quart of oil will set you back about five dollars, so if your car requires five, that’s twenty- five dollars, add the oil filter and you’re over the thirty dollar mark.

Now pay close attention. This is where you need to be up to date on your car’s maintenance schedule. The $29.99 oil change is a lure, it’s to bait you in and then double or triple charge you for a filter or drive belt or some other regular maintenance item you didn’t keep up with. We’re not trying to make everyone weekend mechanics, we just want car owners to read the owner’s manual so they’ll have an idea of what maintenance has to be done at the recommended mileage intervals. With that said, you tell me if it makes sense to take your new car in for the fifteen thousand mile service and be charged $400 to $600? What did they do to a car with only fifteen thousand miles besides change the oil?

You need to learn what maintenance items to consent to and what to say no to and still be assured your car is in optimum operating condition. A great benefit in learning how to properly maintain your car is also learning how to diagnose potential repair issues.