Fall is just around the corner, and you can probably feel it in the air. You might be resisting the urge to kick on the heat and you may not be ready to trade your swim shorts in for a pair of thermals just yet. Even if you’re not prepared for the change in weather, your car should be.
Because seasonal changes affect your vehicle in a multitude of ways, it’s important to prepare for the transition from summer to fall. You’ll want to keep up on regular vehicle maintenance, while also paying close attention to season-specific car care tasks.
In many places, schools and businesses are starting to reopen with precautions due to the pandemic. That means you might be driving your car more this fall than you did during the summer.
Begin to make sure your vehicle is ready with the following car care tips.
Check the Wiper Blades
The fall season often brings rain (and more rain) and sometimes even snow if you maneuver up around the mountain passes. You’ll want to make sure your car’s wiper blades are in good shape to deal with these conditions.
To check the wiper blades, turn on both the wipers and windshield washers. A good set of blades should produce a streak-free sweep and leave the windshield clear.
Replace the wiper blades if they do not perform well. Decent wiper blades can usually be found in any automotive section of the stores you might be picking up school supplies in. Double check the size before you buy!
You’ll also want to consider the washer fluid. There are winter blends, which are designed to resist freezing, and summer blends for warmer weather. When the temperatures start to drop, you’ll want to make sure you have a winter blend in your car’s washer fluid reservoir.
Make Sure the Heater is Working
If you’re like most drivers, you didn’t turn your car’s heater on at all during the summer. But soon, the weather will get cold and you’ll be pining for a warm cabin once again. It’s a good idea to test your vehicle’s heater before the temperatures start to drop. Automotive heating systems rely on hot engine coolant, so if the heater is blowing cold air, you likely have a problem somewhere within the cooling system. For example, the thermostat may be stuck open, the water pump may be faulty, or the heater core could be clogged.
If you have the know-how, you can troubleshoot the problem yourself. Otherwise, you will want to have a professional diagnose and repair the issue.
Take Care of Any Outstanding Maintenance
Remember that booklet, called the owner’s manual, that’s buried in your glovebox? Dust it off and turn to the section that covers the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule—you’ll find the suggested intervals for the routine services the automaker recommends.
Is your car due (or overdue) for service? Be sure to take care of it now. Lack of maintenance is one of the most common reasons for mechanical breakdowns. Regular maintenance is much less expensive than reacting to a massive mechanical issue because of neglect. Car problems left ignored often snowball into big-time concerns. For example, a leaking radiator hose can lead to a low coolant level, overheating, and catastrophic engine damage.
Ignoring issues can also leave you stranded on a chilly (or wet) fall morning. Address any known problems now to prevent further headaches.