Key considerations for Fall Car Care Month

October 1, 2013 12:00 AM

While vehicle maintenance is a year-round responsibility, the month of October is especially dedicated to making this a priority. Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, was adamant that taking certain proactive measures is crucial, not only to ensure that the vehicle is dependable but also that the driver is safe. Further, taking this approach to address potential problems ahead of time could minimize costly auto repair.

So what aspects should you be focusing on now that autumn is here? These are a few of the most important steps you should take to ensure that your car is prepared for harsher conditions:

Check the battery
The battery is the lifeblood of your car. Because low temperatures can cause wear and tear on the battery, it's critical that you take a look at this component as well as the charging system to determine if it needs to be replaced. According to the source, a battery should automatically be switched out for a new one if it's over three years old because there isn't always a surefire way to tell when a battery is going to die. To prevent future issues, make sure that the connections are secure and clean.

Test the heat, defrosters and wipers
The functionality of all three of these aspects is imperative during the colder months, and not only for your physical comfort. The Car Care Council noted that if the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system isn't working properly, your car won't be able to defrost effectively. While the council advises replacing wiper blades roughly every six months, you should definitely change them out for new ones if they are cracked, otherwise damaged or simply don't work. While you're switching them, the council also recommends looking at the windshield wiper's fluid level.

Consider repowering
?Rebuilding the engine is a lesser-known strategy that may prove immensely helpful for protecting your car and making sure it runs efficiently. Rick Simko, chairman of the Engine Rebuilders Council, explained that if your vehicle is in basically good condition but it is suffering from engine problems, repowering it with a remanufactured or rebuilt engine will give you the added reassurance that it will be reliable, regardless of lower temperatures.

The way it works is that either the vehicle's own engine or a similar one is taken apart, cleaned and reassembled. However, these engines are not like typical used engines - they are guaranteed to have a reliable performance and are supported with a warranty.

"In addition to making your vehicle more dependable, a rebuilt engine gets better gas mileage and emits fewer pollutants than a worn out engine," Simko stated. "It's a sensible solution and much more cost effective than purchasing a new or used car."

Evaluate the brakes
When you're driving down snowy or icy roads, functional brakes are crucial to your safety. If for some reason they suddenly don't work, your vehicle could slide out of your control. Therefore, the Car Care Council suggested having a professional auto repair franchise evaluate your system and determine if it needs a brake service. While they're checking them, the brake linings, rotors and drums should also be looked at.

Assess the wheels
The cold, snow and ice can be harsh on your tires. The Car Care Council noted that it's important to make sure the tires have adequate pressure and tread depth. If the signs of wear are inconsistent across different areas, demonstrating bare spots and bulges, the council asserted that your car likely needs a tire rotation. The source also stressed that specialized tires that are designed to have better traction on slippery roads may be necessary if you live in an area where snow and ice are a common issue.

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