The New Year is here. Along with watching the ball drop at midnight, New Years is the time for resolutions. Promising to take better care of your body through exercise and dieting is a tried and true New Year’s resolution, but what about your trusty vehicle? While you’re reassessing and planning for the New Year, it’s a great time to get on top of your routine car maintenance. Whether or not you endure a harsh winter, here are some things you should keep an eye on while maintaining your car – especially over the colder months.
Getting your car’s oil changed regularly should be Car Maintenance 101, right? Without an oil change, your car’s engine will wear out a lot faster. The oil lubricates the car’s engine, which can be affected by the type of climate that you are driving in. The colder the weather, the thicker your car’s oil will get. In order to prepare for this, you may want to consult with your mechanic about using a thinner formula of oil for the winter months.
Your vehicle’s air filter prevents unwanted contaminants from getting sucked into your engine. When it’s not working properly due to clogging, your car’s mileage can be reduced as much as 14 percent. The rate of replacing air filters vary, but it can be anywhere from 30,000 – 45,000 miles.
All of the things on this checklist are vital to meeting the conditions of the winter road, but having quality tires is absolutely essential. As ever, you need to make sure your car’s tire pressure is right; cold weather can affect tire pressure levels. Maintaining proper tire pressure will ensure a longer tire life and protect from excessive wear and tear. Worn out tires are all but useless in the snow, so make sure that your tires have enough tread to hand the winter weather. Here’s an easy tire tread test: slide a penny head-down into the center tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you have less than 2/23 in tread. If that’s the case, it’s time to buy some new tires!
This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with maintaining your tires: your brakes are your car’s most important safety feature. Worn-out brakes are dangerous and require a longer anticipation for stopping. Have a mechanic check your vehicle’s brake pads and rotors for wear or damage and to make any needed repairs.
Even if it’s cold outside, you still need coolant because your car’s engine runs hot! Engine coolant is just as important as your engine’s oil. Your radiator should be filled with at least a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze to protect against sub-zero temperatures. You can have a mechanic perform a pressure test on your cooling system. This will let you know if you have a faulty thermostat, a cracked hose or a leaking radiator cap.
Windshield wiper blades should be replaced every six months. Depending on where you live, it might not be a bad idea to invest in some winter blades for your windshield. Your car’s washer reservoir should be filled with freeze-resistant washer fluid so it can still get the job done during the winter.
You car’s heater and defroster are your best defenses against the mounting snow and dropping temperatures of the winter. Before you head out into the elements, make sure that both of these are working properly. Have a mechanic inspect and order any necessary parts that need replacing.
Being stuck on the side of the road with a dead car battery is never an ideal situation, but it could be much worse if it’s during some nasty winter weather. Severely cold temperatures can reduce your car’s battery power by 50 percent. Get ahead of the weather and do a quick visual inspection on the battery yourself. Make sure that everything is properly connected and pay attention to any corrosion or build-up on the terminals. If you don’t feel confident in your evaluation, many battery retailers offer complimentary battery assessments.
This one should be a no brainer for whenever you’re out driving, but you should make sure that your car’s lights work: head lights, tail lights and hazard lights. When the snow is coming down fast and thick, you’re going to want to be able to see all cars around you on the road. Beware of flashing your high beams in snowy weather, as they obscure the road ahead.
You might want to keep your gas tank at least half-full during the winter months. The reason for this is that less fuel in your tank runs a higher risk of built up condensation freezing. To prevent the fuel lines from freezing you might consider adding antifreeze to your system when filling up your tank. Consult with a mechanic in case you’re not sure of your vehicle’s limitations.
So while you’re taking care of your body post-Holidays, don’t forget that your car needs some love and attention too! Frigid temperatures and snow add all sorts of new and dangerous obstacles to the road, so it’s best to be prepared. Have a Happy New Year and make sure you keep your vehicle happy too!
- Basic Car Maintenance Checklist
- Is Your Car Ready For Cold Weather?
- Winter Car Safety & Tips To Maintain Its Value – 5 Winter Maintenance Tips For All Cars
- Top 5 Winter Car Maintenance Tips + Giveaway!