Car Maintenance Tips as the Temperature Dips

Seven Important Car Care Tips for Fall


The cooler weather is usually a welcome break from the summer heat - but it's also a sign that even colder weather is just around the corner. That means now is a great time to service your vehicle so you can address issues before they develop into major problems. Doing so can save you costly repairs in the future as well as enhance the life of your vehicle.

"As the weather cools off and the leaves begin to fall, take some steps to prepare your vehicle for the cold months ahead," says Mark Salem, talk show host of Under the Hood, a car-care show on KTAR 92.3 FM in Phoenix. Mark is also an ASE Certified Master Technician and the owner of Salem Boys Auto, an auto-repair facility in Tempe, Arizona. "A little preventative maintenance can go a long way."

Whether you take care of your own vehicle or rely on the professionals for your car maintenance, here are some tips to keep your vehicle running smoothly now and in the cold months ahead:

1. Engine Tune Up -- Get engine problems such as hard starts, stalling and hesitations corrected now. Cooler weather makes existing problems worse. Waiting to address an issue will often cost you more.

2. Cooling System -- Have your cooling system flushed and filled according to the recommendation found in your owner's manual. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. A mixture of 50 percent antifreeze and 50 percent distilled water is recommended. Keep in mind, adding too much coolant can cause problems too, so stay as close to a 50/50 mixture as possible.

3. Oil -- If you're not already using a synthetic oil, consider switching to one like Mobil 1 0W-30 or Mobil 1 5W-30. These viscosity oils will help your car operate more efficiently, making it easier for your car to start in cooler temperatures. The protection range of a synthetic is wider than that of conventional oil. If your neighborhood is exposed to cold temperatures, your engine will be protected well by a synthetic oil such as Mobil 1.

4. Battery -- Check the vehicle's battery power. Clean all surfaces of the battery and make sure all the connections are tight. Dirty cables and loose battery connections can cause electrical system problems. Also, keep in mind, driving in cooler temperatures requires more power from your battery, so if your battery is more than four years old, you may want to change it now.

5. Brakes -- Keeping your brake system in top shape should be a priority, as the brakes are the most important safety feature on your vehicle. Make sure to have your vehicle's brake pads, fluid levels and emergency brake inspected as well. Noises, squealing and brake pedal pulsations are the most common symptoms of brakes that need repair.

6. Tires -- Examine your tires' tread, checking for excessive wearing and side wall damage. Replace worn tires promptly and regularly rotate the tires on your vehicle. If you have a passenger car and can't find the sticker on the driver's door that tells you what the proper inflation of your tires should be, then inflate your tires to 35 psi. That's a good default air pressure you can use until you can get to a service facility.

7. Heater and Defroster -- Don't put off checking the heater and defroster to ensure they are working properly before the cold weather hits. Visibility and passenger comfort depend on it.

"Don't wait for signs of car trouble to alert you to a problem with your vehicle, especially as cooler weather begins to set in," says Salem. "Instead, be proactive when it comes to preventative maintenance and increase the engine life of your vehicle. You may also save yourself some potential hassles in the process."

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Source: Exxon Mobil Corporation