We rely heavily on our cars to get us where we need to go—this is especially true in winter when the Midwestern weather is extra vicious. It’s important to get your car ready to deal with these extra tough months by maintaining them properly and ensuring the components of your vehicle are at the top of their game. Here are a handful of tips for what to check yourself or mention to your favorite mechanic next time you’re in the shop.
- Prior to doing anything, ensure you’re familiar with your car’s owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.
- Note engine performance and drivability problems, including but not limited to hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, and so on. Get these corrected at a reputable mechanic or repair shop. Cold weather makes these existing problems worse, so getting them fixed as soon as possible before winter comes will probably save you a world of trouble.
- Change out your filters—air, fuel, and PCV to name a few. A poorly running engine is less efficient and burns more gas, which costs you more money in the long run than a few replacement filters will.
- As the weather gets colder and the temperature starts to drop below freezing, add a bottle of fuel deicer to your gas tank once a month to keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line—keeping your gas tank full also helps prevent moisture from forming and freezing in the tank.
- Make oil and oil filter changes as specified per your manual—if your driving is more stop-and-go on average or consists of short frequent stops, you’ll need to make more frequent changes to these. Regular oil and filter changes are the most frequently neglected services that are also essential to keep your engine protected and in good shape.
- Flush and refill your cooling system as recommended, as well as checking the level, condition, and concentration of the coolant periodically. A 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water is normally the recommended measurement. If you’re intending to do these things yourself, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has completely cooled. The tautness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should also be checked regularly by a professional technician.
- To accommodate passenger comfort and driver visibility, the heater and defroster should be in good working condition at all times.
- Replace your wiper blades regularly—particularly if your climate’s winter weather is usually pretty harsh. In that case, opt for rubber-clad blades to fight ice buildup. You’ll also want to stock up on windshield wiper fluid, as you’ll go through more of that on average than you may expect. Finally, always keep an ice scraper in the car. You never know when you’ll need it and you’d hate to be without one when you do.
- Have a professional check your battery—the only truly accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Most knowledgable motorists can perform routine care, such as scraping away corrosion from posts and cable connections, retightening all connections, checking the fluid level, and so on (all while wearing protective eyewear and rubber gloves). Always check your manual to ensure you know the proper procedures and safety for managing this equipment and corrosive substances.
- Inspect all lights and bulbs on your vehicle. Replace burnt out bulbs, clean the lenses, and—to prevent scratching—never use a dry rag. Clouded lenses can be refinished by many service outlets or with a DIY kit you can get from most major auto parts stores.
- Have your exhaust system examined for leaks and problems while your vehicle’s on a lift. The truck and floorboards should also be inspected for cracks or holes as exhaust fumes inside a vehicle can be deadly.
- Bald tires are dangerous all the time, but especially during winter. Examine your tires to gauge remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping. Check sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Tire pressure should be checked about once a month (and always let your tires “cool down” before doing so) and tires should be rotated as recommended for your vehicle. Under-inflated tires make your engine work harder and wastes gas. Always make sure your spare’s in good shape, too—you never know when you’ll need it.
- Have your brakes checked periodically for safety and to prevent needing costly repairs in the future that can be circumvented by consistent maintenance.
- Most people neglect their transmission until it fails. Routine checks and fluid changes at the proper intervals can prevent significant (and avoidable) failures and repairs in the future.
- Always keep an emergency kit with you. Gloves, flares, a flashlight and batteries, an extra cell phone charger, first aid, and so on can be kept in this kit for easy access in the event that you’re in an accident. Wintertime is an especially good time to have something like this easily accessible.
Sometimes, no matter how careful you are with your vehicle maintenance or how safely you drive, accidents happen. When they do, you’ll need car accident lawyers you can rely on to defend your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been in an accident, reach out to Boughter Sinak today for a free consultation.