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October is Fall Car Care Month – Fall Car Maintenance Checklist

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Getting your car ready for the cold winter ahead is the best way to help prevent more costly auto repairs. October is National Fall Car Care Month, and today, I am sharing a Fall car care checklist you can use to help ensure your car is ready for the colder temperatures and inclement weather of winter.

road lined by trees in October fall car care

Taking the time now to complete this seasonal vehicle check-up can help you maintain safety and maximize performance and efficiency. While many of the items on this Fall car care checklist can be inspected by you in less than an hour, others should be performed by a certified mechanic either at a car dealership or a mechanic’s shop.

Fall Car Care Checklist

  1. Check all engine fluids and other car fluids – this includes the engine oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, transmission fluid and the antifreeze/coolant. If any of the levels are low, consult your owner’s manual to locate the correct type and amount needed. Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to keep it from freezing.
  2. Check the belts – check both the top and the underside of the belts to make sure they are not brittle, cracked, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear. Many newer cars have multi-rib “serpentine” belts which are made of materials that do not show obvious signs of wear; these need to be replaced at 60,000-mile intervals.
  3. Check the hoses – first check all hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Then be sure to squeeze the hoses as well and replace any that are brittle or have an overly spongy feeling.
  4. Check the engine filter – you can check this filter by holding it up to a 60-watt bulb. If you can see light through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. If the light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.
  5. Check the battery and charging system – first make sure all battery terminals and cables are clean, tight and free of any corrosion. Then have it tested by a technician to ensure your battery is fully charged.
  6. Check the tires – check both tire pressure and tread. Remember, as the temperature falls so will your tire pressure. Don’t forget to check the spare as well. You can find the proper tire pressure levels in your owner’s manual or on a sticker usually located on the driver’s side door jamb. Be sure to check for any uneven wear which can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems. Any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread needs to be replaced. Any tires with bulges or bald spots will also need replacing.
  7. Check the wipers and lighting – wipers should be replaced every six months or when you notice any signs of wear such as shredding or separation from the blade housing. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly including low beams, high beams, turn signals, reverse lights and the hazards.
  8. Check the brake system – this should be done by a professional to ensure all components are in good working order. Have your brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change, and have the entire brake system inspected annually.
  9. Inspect the exhaust system – another one for the professionals. Exhaust leaks can be very dangerous and must be fixed without delay.
  10. Check the engine – have your mechanic make sure your engine is delivering the best balance of fuel economy and power while producing the lowest levels of emissions.
  11. Check HVAC system – best left to the professionals, this is important not only for comfort but also for safety reasons such as defrosting.
  12. Inspect the steering and suspension system – this should be done by a technician annually. It includes checking the shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.

Do you perform a Fall car care checkup?

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