Whether we like to think about winter being right around the corner or not, the signs that the seasons are changing are all around us. So it’s fitting that with October being Fall Car Care Month we take a moment to remind ourselves about the importance of attending to the family car’s maintenance needs.
This doesn’t have to be a big roadblock in the family’s activities. But it does require a little planning. The Car Care Council advises that fall is the time to make sure that you, or a qualified automotive mechanic:
- Check all fluids. Engine oil, brake and transmission fluid, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant all need to be checked and refilled, if necessary.
- Check hoses and belts. While you’re at it, checking out the fluids in the family car, be sure to check hoses and belts to make sure they’re not cracked, brittle, loose, frayed or excessively worn. Replace if necessary.
- Check the battery. Your battery may need replacing or it may just be that a connection is corroded. Check to see that the connection is tight and clean.
- Don’t forget the brakes. You should have your brake system checked annually, and also make sure at each oil change to have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected.
- Have an exhaust system check. Any leaks from your car’s exhaust system can be dangerous and require immediate repair. During your fall car care maintenance, have the exhaust system thoroughly checked out for any signs of leaks, damage, broken supports or hangars, or if there’s an unusual noise.
- Check the tires. Take this opportunity to check all the tires on the car, including the spare. Be sure to check tire pressure and tread, any bulges or bald spots. Uneven wear signals that you may need an alignment.
- Check wipers and lighting. You need to be able to see clearly through the windows and with adequate illumination, so have the wipers and all lights checked as well. Replace worn wiper blades and remove any accumulated grime from lights with appropriate cleaner. If a light is dim or broken, have it replaced immediately.
2011 Subaru OutbackEnlarge Photo
- Check the heating and cooling system. There’s nothing worse than driving or riding in a car that’s barely warmer than the wintry outside air or not being able to see the road clearly due to inadequate defrosting of the windows. Prevent this by having your car’s heating, ventilating and cooling (HVAC) system checked for optimum performance.
- Have steering and suspension checked. This is another annual maintenance check-up that you really should have. Now’s the best time to do it. Make sure the tech inspects the shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts, including ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
- Schedule an engine tune-up. Optimum engine performance doesn’t just happen. Your engine needs a little TLC to get there and an engine tune-up can help you get better performance, fuel economy and fewer emissions.
Be on the lookout for fall car care specials offered by your dealer or neighborhood garage. Drop your car off on your way to work and arrange a ride either through the facility or with friends. Or have the scheduled maintenance work done while you shop at a nearby mall.
As they always say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the case of your family’s safety, establishing a regular car maintenance program is well worth the cost which, in most cases, is usually pretty reasonable.
Look at it this way: Once your car’s cared for, you can look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas road trips with the family without having to worry you’ll have a mechanical breakdown along the way.