Although it might not feel like it – especially if you live in the west or southeast – fall is here. That means shorter days, colorful foliage, football season, and shaking one’s head in disbelief at stores putting up their Christmas displays in October. And with the change in seasons come changes in driving conditions – temperatures drop, and many parts of the country start to see an increase in rain, ice on the roads, and even a bit of snow. Here are three ways to make sure that your car is ready for the fall.
Check your wiper blades.
It’s easy to take your wiper blades for granted, but they’re one of the most-used pieces of equipment on your car. Windshield wiper blades do wear down with use and age – and even if you don’t use them very often, hot, dry weather can actually speed up wear. Autumn is a good time to replace them; your new blades will get you through the fall, winter, spring and summer. Knowing when to replace them is relatively easy: they’ll streak or even leave large patches of moisture when used, and they may even “chatter” as they move across your windshield. The blades themselves are made of rubber or silicon, and they can wear down to the point at which the hard plastic or metal of the wiper arm is making contact with glass. And that can cause damage to the windshield. Replacing the blades is a simple process; your local auto parts store will carry a wide range of blades, and will be able to help you find the blades that will fit your your car.
Check and Change Your Fluids.
As temperatures cool, it’s a good time to make sure that all of your car’s fluids are clean and topped off. When temperatures drop, the fluids in your car can become more viscous, or thicker – which may cause them to move more slowly through the engine. It’s especially good to drain and replace your coolant if you live in areas that experience extreme temperature swings from summer to fall and into winter. Coolant isn’t JUST coolant – there’s water added to it, and that ratio of water to coolant will typically be higher in the summer. In the winter, the ratio of water to coolant should be 40:60 (or 40% water, 60% coolant).
Check Your Tires.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: your tires are perhaps the most important part of your car. As you head into icy road season, you should make sure that the tread on your tires is still up to par. There’s an easy way to do this: all you need is a penny. Insert the penny with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you into your tire’s tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace that tire – the tread is less than 2/32 of an inch, and the tire is not safe to drive on. Don’t be surprised if your tires start to look a bit deflated. As temperatures drop, so does the the air pressure inside your tire – the pressure inside your tire will drop about 1 psi (pound per square inch) for every 10 degrees that the outside air temp drops.
These three quick fixes will go a long way in keeping you safe on the road this fall.