Winter Car Maintenance Tips
Thanks to better initial quality, vehicles today run better, last longer, and require less maintenance than ever before. But, even the highest quality cars, trucks, and SUVs need a little attention now and then. So, with winter upon us, now is the perfect time to show your vehicle some love. Here are a few winter maintenance tips to help keep your vehicle purring no matter what mother nature has in store:
Tip Number 1 – Do a Stress-Test on the Battery
Summer heat and extra draw from the air conditioner put tremendous stress on your car’s battery. The damage often isn’t noticed until the worst possible moment – when you are out in the cold and need the car to start. The start of winter is the perfect time to stress test your vehicle’s battery.
Tip Number 2 – Check Your Tire Pressure Regularly
You should check your car’s tire pressure about once per month. Mileage, the type of roads that you drive on, and even the outside air temperature can affect your vehicle’s tire pressure. Tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure will grip the road better, last longer, and brake quicker than over or under-inflated tires.
Tip Number 3 – Rotate the Tires at Least Once a Year
Because they steer the car, the front tires wear faster than the rear tires. Rotating your tires at least once a year will extend their life and improve their performance considerably. Most manufacturers recommend rotating their vehicle’s tires every six to eight thousand miles. Also, remember that rotating tires too often will not harm but, not rotating them enough will cause excessive wear.
Tip Number 4 – Have the Wheels Aligned
Wheels out of alignment will lead to poor ride quality, decrease fuel economy, and cause tires to wear unevenly. So, even if you don’t notice an issue, add a wheel alignment to the winter maintenance schedule, anyway.
Tip Number Five – Change the Oil
Years ago, most automakers recommended changing the oil about every 3,000 miles or so. But, thanks to modern synthetic lubricants, some manufacturers have bumped that number up to as high as 10,000 miles. That makes the start of winter a perfect time for a semi-annual (for average to heavier drivers), or an annual (for light drivers) oil change.
Tip Number Six – Change the Windshield Wipers
Even the best quality wipers dry and crack over time. It’s also better to install budget blades several times a year than to buy expensive wipers once a year. Also, traditional bracket-style windshield wipers handle ice and snow better than the newer beam-blade style. And don’t forget to top off the washer fluid reservoir with winter-washer fluid about a month before the first freeze of the year.
Tip Number Seven – Replace the Engine Air Filter
Most auto manufacturers recommend changing the engine air filter about every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. For most drivers, that comes out to about once every other year. But, if you do a lot of city driving, drive in arid and dusty conditions, or put more than 15,000-miles per year on your car, then consider changing the engine air filter at least once per year.
Tip Number Eight – Replace the Cabin Air-Filter
Your vehicle may have a cabin air filter that removes dirt, dust, moisture, and even bugs from your car’s interior air. Changing its cabin filter will also help filter out allergy-causing pollen, eliminate odors, and even improve its HVAC performance. Change the cabin air filter at least once a year, or immediately If you detect a musty smell coming through the vents.
Tip Number Nine – Get a Tune-Up
Getting your car tuned-up years ago involved making adjustments to, and replacing several carburetor and ignition parts. But, thanks to fuel injection and electronic ignition, modern tune-ups mean little more than changing spark plugs and checking the brakes, belts, hoses, and fluid levels.
Tip Number Ten – Stop At the Car Wash
Road salt, ice melt, and dirt left on your vehicle may cause rust and corrosion. Only a trip to the car wash can clean your car’s undercarriage, no matter how well you attempt to tackle it yourself. So, no matter how much you enjoy giving your ride the royal treatment on Saturday mornings, be sure to stop at the car wash a few times throughout the winter season.