As the days get longer, the temperature gets lower and the leaves begin to change, you’ll find yourself relying on your vehicle more to get the kids to and from school and sporting events. With grueling summer heat in the rear-view mirror and frigid winter weather on the horizon, autumn is the perfect time to address a few of your vehicle’s key maintenance needs and make sure it’s running when you need it the most.
The change in season means that you’re likely now heading out in the dark every weekday morning and venturing home as the sun is setting in the evenings. The National Automotive Parts Association’s Benjamin Jerew notes that this means you will want to conduct a thorough check of all the lights on your vehicle to make sure that they are all working and adequately bright. This check should include your turn signals, brake lights, marker lights, taillights, fog lights, headlights and hazard lights. If your vehicle isn’t equipped with fog lights, Jerew recommends investigating aftermarket options, particularly if you live in an area where visibility is often low.
Check tires and wipers
While the spring is the season most associated with rainfall, autumn also brings its fair share of downpours. This means that you’ll want to ensure that your windshield wipers are operating at peak condition. If you notice streaking or missed spots when using your wipers, or if you notice signs of wear or cracking on your wiper blades, Jerew suggests that you take the opportunity to swap in a new pair. In general, you’ll want to replace your windshield wiper blades every six months or so.
The fall is also an ideal time to inspect your tires for signs of wear or damage caused by potholes or other road hazards during the spring and summer. If you notice that your tires are wearing unevenly, you’ll want to have them rotated or replaced as soon as possible. The cooler temperatures of autumn also mean lower air pressure in your tires, so be diligent about checking your tires’ inflation every few weeks or so. Jerew notes that even a few pounds per square inch over or under the levels recommended in your owners’ manual can have an impact on your fuel economy and the overall lifespan of your tires.
Pop the hood
The Car Care Council recommends autumn as an ideal time to make sure that your vehicle’s battery is in proper working order before the cold days of winter set in. Check your battery and its cables for any signs of wear or corrosion and test it to ensure that it’s delivering an adequate level of cold cranking amps. If it’s been five years or more since your last replacement and you’ve noticed that your vehicle is having more difficulty starting up, you may very well just want to have it replaced sooner rather than later.
Even though cranking the air conditioning may seem like one of the last things you’d want to do in the fall or winter, Jerew notes that doing so helps defog your front windows and windshield. Take the opportunity to test your vehicle’s HVAC system to ensure that your air conditioning is in working order and that your heating and defrosting systems will be sufficient for the winter days ahead.
Don’t let car troubles derail your planned fall foliage trip or set you up for unwanted trouble during a harsh winter. Maintain your vehicle while the weather is mild and ensure that it is ready to face this and many more seasons ahead.
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