When it comes to changing the oil and oil filter, you should be changing them at regular intervals. This will be determined by a few factors like the frequency of short trips or if you’re hauling heavy materials. It’s also determined by the car’s manufacturer. If you haven’t had the oil changed in a few months, it can’t hurt to have it done before the school season starts.
Correct Engine Problems
If you’ve noticed some problems like rough idling, hard starts or stalling, you should get that fixed as soon as possible. When the cold weather starts, it can make problems like that worse. Have air and fuel filters replaced too. This is the time to replace other fluids too. Transmission and brake fluid are two that should be changed to help the car run smoothly in the winter.
Tune-Up for the School Year
Wires, plugs and simple maintenance like replacing cracked hoses should be performed in the fall. A tune-up should be done once per year, and the perfect time would be in the fall before school starts. Normally, simply maintaining your vehicle with regular tune-ups can avoid serious problems before they even start.
You might not even know there is a problem with your windshield wipers until you have a snowstorm that dumps snow on the window while you’re driving. Change the windshield washer fluid to one with winter properties. Instead of scraping snow and ice from the windshield, you can use the fluid to remove the ice while you sit in the warm vehicle. Have an ice scraper and a snow brush in the vehicle too. Replace cracked windshield wipers at the beginning of the season as well.
Check the Battery
Batteries can last for years, so you won’t have to replace them annually, but you’ll never know how winter will impact the life of the battery. While you don’t need to replace the battery, you should test it thoroughly. A professional will have the right test equipment to identify when a battery is getting weak. While you don’t have to replace the battery every year, you should be brushing away corrosion on the posts regularly. All connections should be secure.
Clean and Check the Lights
All of the lights should be inspected from the headlights to the brake lights. Any blown bulbs need to be replaced, and cloudy lenses should be cleaned or replaced. A cloudy or weathered headlight isn’t giving you the illumination you need while driving. You can have a professional attend to the lights to be sure they’re all working correctly both inside and outside of the vehicle.
Maintain Your Tires
When it comes to maintenance, one of the most important aspects are the tires. They keep your vehicle in contact with the roadway, and should be checked regularly. Every 6,000 to 7.000 miles, have the tires rotated. At this time, check the tread for uneven wear that can cause the car to pull to one side. That could be an indication that you need to have a front-end alignment. Before winter, you might want to change to winter performance tires. The tread is deeper, which gives you better traction on the snow and ice.
The Exhaust System
In the winter time, the exhaust system can be a serious problem. The exhaust from your engine has deadly gas filled with carbon monoxide. Leaks in the exhaust system or holes in the floor of the vehicle can allow that gas to enter. In the summer with the windows open, that won’t be as deadly as the winter. It can be a serious problem when the car is idling, and you’re waiting for your children to get out of school in the afternoon.
Emergency Gear in the Car
Finally, have emergency gear in your vehicle like gloves, blankets and flares. A few energy bars in your glove box might even save your life. The harsh winter elements can turn deadly if you’re stranded in a broken-down vehicle.
These are all serious maintenance issues that should be handled before the school season starts. Pay attention to your vehicle too. At the first sign of trouble, have it looked at by a professional and repaired immediately.