Scheduled maintenance is an important part of owning any vehicle, with regular oil and filter changes paramount to keeping your car in good working order. But what many drivers don’t know is there are a number of additional steps you should be taking, depending on the time of year.
Fall is a season where a change in weather conditions can make routine motoring a little more haphazard than usual, which is why you should do everything you can to prepare your vehicle as much as possible. Let’s outline several steps you should take to ensure your car is ready for a new season.
Check Your Visibility
Fall tends to mean a higher chance of rain and turbulent weather conditions, the sort which can make maintaining good visibility difficult. That’s why it’s a great time to check those aspects of your car that you’ve probably overlooked during summer.
- Check and Replace Wiper Blades
You’ll be surprised just how easy it is to get caught in a sudden downpour only to find the wiper blades you’ve had on your car for several years are no longer able to clear your windscreen.
We suggest giving them the once over by spraying a little washer fluid onto your windscreen before activating your wipers to see if they can clear the screen without leaving a noticeable streak. If they can’t, it’s time to replace them.
- Check and Top Up Washer Fluid
It’s possible to go months without having to use your washer fluid which makes it easy to forget just how much fluid is left. You’ll find an increasing amount of road grime is thrown onto your windscreen as the season progresses which can be virtually impossible to clear without using a significant quantity of fluid.
Simply top up your reservoir with your washer fluid of choice until it’s full.
- Check and Replace Light Bulbs
There’s nothing worse than not noticing you’ve blown a bulb until it’s too late. The trouble is that in fall, you begin to rely on your headlights and tail lights more than usual, which can make driving with a lamp that’s non-operational is unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst.
With longer summer days, you may not have used your lights for months, which is why we suggest giving your car the once over to ensure that every single lamp that should be working, is working. If not, simply replace the bulbs required.
The months of summer and the road conditions that usually prevail have the ability to hide just how poor the performance of your tires currently is. This is because warm and dry asphalt simply doesn’t pose a challenge for most tires, regardless of the shape they’re in.
Fall, on the other hand, usually features a significant amount of rain which can be dangerous for tires that are worn down to their legal limits. Since they’re the only thing keeping you on the road, the condition of your tires is critical.
- Check Tire Tread Depths
The ability of a tire to effectively clear water is based on how much usable tread is present across the width of the tire. The less tread remaining, the less performance and safety margin you’ll have.
The minimum legal tread depth allowed in most states is 2/32″ or roughly 1.6mm. From a visual point of view, this level is reached as soon as the wear indicators present on your tires are flush with the level of tread remaining. If you want to be exact, we recommend purchasing an inexpensive tread gauge, or try the penny test.
If your tires are nearing the legal limit, we strongly suggest replacing as soon as possible.
- Check for Tire Damage
Tires are designed to withstand a lot of abuse but can become compromised over time with a variety of tell-tale signs that damage occurred.
Start by checking each tire for bulges or lumps in the sidewall of the tire which can be characteristic of impact damage. Also, check carefully for the presence of nails and other pieces of debris embedded within both the tread and wall of the tire itself.
If you notice any damage at all to the carcass of the tire, head over to your nearest tire shop for their professional opinion. You might be able to get away with a repair, but replacing the tire is likely the best option.
Wind, rain, slippery road surfaces and poor visibility doesn’t have to make driving difficult or unpleasant. By following our simple advice, you too can make sure your car is in the best possible condition for the months ahead.