Brakes and tires, check and check! The weather can get dicey this time of year. Depending on which part of the country you live in, rain, sleet, hail, and even snow and ice can be a part of the view from the driver’s seat. Be sure your tires are ready for whatever the day may bring; inspect and measure the tread depth and if the wear bars are showing, replace your tires. And keep them inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure—when the temperature drops, so does tire pressure. Of course, be sure your brakes are 100 percent. Many brake and tire shops will inspect them at no charge.
Get your shocks inspected. How you corner, how you brake, the wear and tear on your tires, the overall comfort, safety, stability and longevity of your vehicle are all influenced by your shocks and struts. If your shock absorbers are worn, the overall ride of your vehicle will lack precision. Lane changes will be sloppy, vehicle body roll may be excessive when cornering, and when you brake, you can experience excessive brake dive and acceleration squat. Replacing worn shocks can give any vehicle, a like-new ride. Have your local, professional service provider take a look at your shocks during your next vehicle maintenance visit.
Batteries don’t like cold. Be sure that power source under the hood is fully charged. The heat of the summer months takes a toll on a battery’s reserve charge, but it doesn’t show the strain until the temperatures drop in fall and winter. A fully charged battery means worry-free starts all season long. Be sure there’s no corrosion on the terminals and cables, and remember: Battery checks are free at most repair facilities or automotive supply stores. A trained technician can give you a full report on your battery’s health in a matter of seconds.
Let there be light! Days are getting shorter and shorter. Less daylight means a greater dependency on your vehicle’s lighting systems from bumper to bumper. Take a walk around the outside of the car and check all your lights: parking lights, brake lights, headlights, taillights and flashers. Replace bulbs as needed and keep them clean. Halogen lamps cost a few dollars more, but are a real value for improved visibility while driving.
Look at your heater and defroster. Obviously, the heater is important for cold-weather driving. But so is your defroster, and both work together to keep fog off the windows. Be sure your heating systems are in proper working order, and if necessary, have them repaired well in advance of those crisp, fall days.
Change oil and fluids. Chances are, you know when your last oil change was and when it’ll be time for the next one. But if not, simply looking at the dipstick can tell you a lot. If what you see is dirty or tinted brown, get an oil change. And when the engine’s cold, check its coolant level—a half-and-half mix of water and coolant is good antifreeze protection. But don’t stop there: Check your transmission and brake fluids, as well. And if you have power steering, check its fluid before it’s so cold you need gloves to even open the hood. Your vehicle will be as important to you and your family as autumn is itself. Be sure it’s ready for the season, and make the most of the months ahead.