With everything you have to do and everywhere you want to go during the holidays, you need a vehicle you can trust. You will be logging a lot of miles as you haul gifts, decorations and culinary treats to and from your loved ones’ homes and drive around to appreciate twinkling lights and outdoor scenes. To ensure that your vehicle can keep up with the demands of the season, you need to put car care on your holiday to-do list now.
You won’t be able to appreciate the look of the season if your car is unable to cut through the darkness. That’s why ConsumerReports.org recommends doing a perimeter check of your vehicle to test if all of your vehicle’s lights are working at full capacity.
Along with goodwill, the holiday season brings differing levels of condensation that can significantly impede your visibility while driving. In order to see clearly, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) recommends installing new windshield wiper blades.
“If your climate is harsh, purchase rubberclad (winter) blades to fight ice buildup,” advises the ASE. “Stock up on windshield washer solvent; you’ll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.”
Winter weather challenges tires, so it’s important that yours are in great condition. According to the ASE, you should “examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping,” and “the sidewalls for cuts and nicks.” The ASE also advises monitoring tire pressure each month and reviewing the quality of your jack and spare tire.
If you’re expecting a snow-covered holiday season, ConsumerReports.org advises investing in winter tires or top-quality, all-season tires.
If your car has been acting up, the ASE advises seeking a mechanic’s help immediately because a drop in temperature will exacerbate mechanical troubles. Now is also the time to change out fuel, PCV and air filters as well as schedule a routine oil change.
“Check the radiator and heater hoses for cracks and leaks. Hoses should be firm yet pliable when squeezed,” explains ConsumerReports.org. “Generally, the antifreeze mix should be flushed at least every two years to prevent corrosion buildup. If your vehicle is almost due, take care of it now.”
Since cold weather puts a strain on your car’s battery, ConsumerReports.org suggests getting it evaluated by a professional.
“At zero degrees Fahrenheit, your battery has only half of the cranking power it has at 80 degrees. And, all batteries lose strength as they age, don’t take any chances,” explains ConsumerReports.org.
Be sure to check how well your defroster and heater are working, too, advises the ASE; you want to be as comfortable as possible with quality visibility when traveling through dropping temperatures.
Even with the best intentions and maintenance schedules, mishaps can occur, which is why ConsumerReports.org recommends stocking your glove box or trunk with jumper cables, a first aid kit, flare or warning lights, a flashlight, cell phone and charger, a fire extinguisher and winter clothing such as warm-weather gloves and hats. The ASE also suggests keeping boots, blankets, kitty litter or sand, as well as some “high-energy” snacks in your vehicle.
With preventative and corrective car care now, your holiday season of driving should be smooth and reliable.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.