October is Fall Car Care month according to the National Car Care Council
Crisp, clean air. A pile of freshly raked leaves on the lawn. The impending joy of the holiday season. Yes, there’s nothing quite like the changing of the seasons and no season offers quite as much physical change and renewed life as fall.
During this time of quality time with friends and family, it’s important to not forget that other valued member of your family; your trusty vehicle. That’s right, your car, truck, SUV, or van is a crucial part of your family’s daily routine and the impending winter season is especially tough on our favorite vehicles. The National Car Care Council has designated October as Fall Car Care Month, and for good reason. There’s no better time to give your vehicle the once-over it deserves so it can help you through this incredibly busy time of year and be ready for the dark winter days ahead.
To keep your vehicle running smoothly and reliably this fall and beyond; we’ve compiled the top 5 fall car care tips:
- Check / Flush Vehicle Coolant
- Replace Windshield Wipers (All Of Them)
- Check Your Battery Health
- Check Your Tires For Wear
- Change Your Air Filters (Engine & Cabin)
Ready to hit the road this fall with confidence? Read on to learn more.
Check / Flush Vehicle Coolant
One of the most commonly overlooked maintenance items on any vehicle is the maintenance of the antifreeze/coolant in your engine. This guide breaks down the best antifreeze for your car.
Engine coolant is responsible for maintaining an engine’s temperature during normal operating procedures and is especially important during extremely cold or extremely warm weather. As temperatures cool below freezing, special additives within the coolant prevent freezing. In extremely hot conditions, coolant has special additives that prevent breakdown at high engine temperatures. A little known fact is that engine coolant is actually a lubricant and continuously lubricates components such as the water pump during normal operation.
It's always a good idea when rolling into the cold winter months to completely flush all the fluid out of your vehicle's cooling system and replace it with fresh fluid. This will ensure that the vehicle's cooling system is operating at peak efficiency and isn’t held up by debris or worn-out fluid.
Replace Windshield Wipers (All Of Them)
If your windshield wipers are not performing properly, it can lead to a major safety concern during that first fall rainstorm. It's easy to forget to check your windshield wipers after a long, hot summer, but once nasty weather starts back up, your poorly functioning windshield wipers could be top of mind.
Rather than wait until your windshield wipers spontaneously fail, take the time to pick up a pair of quality wipers from a reputable automotive retailer or big-box retailer and proactively replace all of the windshield wipers. Yes, this includes the rear window wiper on your SUV or van as well!
Nearly anybody can replace wiper blades with ease and it’s a simple way to ensure you can always see clearly.
Check Your Battery Health
Traditionally, automotive batteries last anywhere from 5 to 6 years but this number can be drastically shortened by extreme cold or extremely hot weather.
For many that live in these types of climates, replacing their batteries every two or three years is an all too familiar reality. The absolute last thing you want is a failed battery after a long day at the office or when your entire family is heading back from the local pumpkin patch. If you're a DIY type of car owner, you can pick up a multimeter at any home improvement store and run a full checkup on your battery.
Alternatively, most auto parts stores and auto mechanics run a battery health check free of charge. Replacing a battery yourself is a fairly easy process on most vehicles and doing it yourself can save you the money of having a mechanic handle this simple job.
Get an Oil Change
While you’re performing other fall vehicle maintenance tasks, go ahead and ensure that your oil levels are good and check to see if your car or truck needs an oil change before heading into the colder months. It is good practice to perform an oil change at the changing of the seasons to prime and lubricate your engine with fresh oil. Oftentimes, mechanics will leave a reminder sticker on your windshield for when to get your next service. This could include either at what mileage or on what date you should perform the task. It used to be recommended to get your vehicle’s oil serviced every 3,000 miles, however, most lubricants these days can go longer. It’s always best to check with your mechanic to ensure you’re taking the best actions for your specific needs.
The type of oil that is best for your vehicle will depend on your vehicle’s make and model. If you’re unsure of the right type of oil for your automobile, you may always refer to your owner’s manual which will detail which oil to choose. At times, recommendations may change depending on the climate you’re in as well.
There can be confusion about using synthetic or conventional oil as well when getting a routine oil change. In general, conventional oil does provide adequate lubrication for your engine but synthetic oil can provide better overall performance and protection.
Check Your Tires For Wear
As we go through our daily lives with our vehicles, few of us think to regularly check the tires for uneven wear. However, if your vehicle has fallen out of alignment, you may be faced with tires that are wearing unevenly or cause vibrations in the steering wheel. Beyond simple annoyance, worn tires can be dangerous in icy or rainy conditions so common in the winter and fall months.
Prior to heading into the fall and winter, take note of when your vehicle was last aligned. A properly aligned vehicle will ensure that your vehicle's tires wear evenly and that your vehicle drives in a straight line. Anyone who's ever fought the steering wheel from uneven alignment on a long road trip knows just how nerve-wracking this can be!
If you’re purchasing new tires, always align your vehicle soon after - this will prevent brand new tires from wearing unevenly.
Change Your Air Filters (Engine & Cabin)
Road debris and other airborne debris can wreak havoc on both your engine and on the air inside your vehicle.
Much like one cannot place too much importance on our capacity to breathe free, your engine also needs to breathe well and does so through an engine air filter. In addition, the air inside the cabin of your vehicle is also filtered via an in-cabin air filter. As you roll into the fall and winter months, you may want to ensure that both of these filter mediums are changed out. Doing so permits you to reap the benefits of an optimally performing engine, as well as crisp, clean air in the cabin.
It's surprisingly easy to change out these filters on your own and the parts themselves are very inexpensive.
Get Out There And Enjoy The Season
There are no two ways about it; our vehicles are an integral part of our daily lives.
Maintaining our vehicles allows us to enjoy all the splendor of the season without having to resort to a vehicle that's in the shop or needs extensive repairs. Maybe you cannot avoid each and every single repair, but properly maintaining your vehicle during the chilly months of fall and winter will better minimize the likelihood of disaster.
It's a beautiful country and it's a beautiful time of year - get out there with your family and friends and enjoy yourselves!