Get ready for winter driving now
Automotive breakdowns, never convenient, can be dangerous in cold weather. Preventive maintenance can help lessen the odds of mechanical failure.
Use the following checklist from the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence as a guide.
• Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules. There are usually two schedules listed: normal and severe.
• Have engine problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected now, since cold weather will make existing problems worse.
• Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. Have your auto technician check out the other filters: air, fuel, PCV, etc.
• The cooling system (radiator) should be flushed and refilled as recommended. A professional should check the tightness and condition of all belts, clamps, and hoses.
• The heater and defroster must be in good working condition to prevent windows from fogging or icing.
• The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. But do-it-yourselfers can perform routine maintenance. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
• Replace worn wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, consider getting rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up.
• An auto technician should examine the exhaust system for leaks and inspect the trunk and floorboards for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
• Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
A well-maintained vehicle is safer in winter’s harsh conditions, gets better gas mileage, and will last longer than a car that’s been neglected.
Visit www.ase.com for more car care tips and vehicle maintenance information.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) was founded in 1972 as a non-profit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals.
ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) of certification, while their employers often display the blue and white ASE sign. They can be found at all types of repair facilities from dealerships to independent garages and franchises.
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