Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fall Auto Maintenance Tips: 5 Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter

by Marjorie Steele, Social Media Manager

Despite the beautiful 70 degree weather and sunny skies, we all know it's coming: winter. It will come with its ice and below freezing temperatures - and it will come, as all Michigan weather does, quite unexpectedly.

While few of us are likely ready for winter to begin, I think we can all agree that having our vehicles be prepared for winter when it hits is a good idea. The first ice storm of the year is definitely the wrong time to be changing those bald tires, and frustrating my-car-won't-start mornings can be easily avoided with a little preventative maintenance.

To that end, here are 5 relatively easy (and inexpensive) maintenance steps you should take this fall:

1) Fix starter issues. Have any start and/or idling issues examined and resolved. Rough starts, uneven idling and stalling are often easier to fix than you would think; many times a simple filter change, fluid change, new starter or new wire can take care of wintertime failure-to-start problems.

2) Battery and cable check. Have an auto technician take a look at your battery to make sure it's got enough power for another winter - but don't stop there. While he's at it, ask him to scrape away any and all corrosion from posts and cable connections, clean surfaces and connectors and tighten cable connections. Start problems are often caused by simple dirt and corrosion; even your car battery requires a little thorough cleaning from time to time.

3) Comprehensive routine maintenance. At Cars for Keeps, we have a service we call a "pit stop". When performing a pit stop, we check pretty much everything on your vehicle which can possible be checked, including lights, tires, wipers, belts, hoses and fluids. We analyze all your vehicle's fluids - even engine oil - to make sure they're still doing their job. This is a great way to identify fluid leaks, low fluids, faulty connections and any other problems before they snowball into a cold February inconvenience.

4) Check / change tires. If you've lived in Michigan for any amount of time, you're probably aware of how important tires can be when it comes to winter driving safety. Driving on summer tires and even all weather tires can make driving during inclement winter weather extremely dangerous. Snow tires are softer and "stickier", providing you with much better traction on packed snow and ice. So do yourself a favor: keep two sets of tires for your vehicle - one for summer, one for winter. And don't wait until the first snowstorm hits to have your summer tires swapped for winter tires.

5) Prepare yourself. While we certainly hope for the best, it never hurts to prepare for the worst. Take 5 minutes to equip your car with a winter emergency kit, including ice scrapers, spare blankets, kitty litter (for traction), a flashlight, flares, water, rope and a few nonperishable goods. Who knows? These items may help you out of a ditch, or they may help someone else in need.


Ethan Rehman said...

Preparing your car for winter has its benefits, as it can save you and your car during tough times. I learned it the hard way, since I almost had an accident during winter season a few years ago.

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jen pollock said...

I know winter is over, but your tips are applicable for all seasons.. Thanks.

Scarlet Thompson said...

Winter is right around the corner, and the last thing I want is car problems. I can't think of the last time I got my battery and cables checked. Now is the perfect time, so if there is a problem, I can get it fixed now before it gets too cold. Also, I love what you said about making sure your tires are in good condition. That is so important during winter, with the snow and ice. You have to have good traction.


Car Trapped said...
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Rashmi Desai said...

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Judy Wilson said...

It helps to know some of these things that can fix starter issues with my car. I thought that it would take a complicated repair to fix it, so I'm glad that all it needs might mean a filter change, fluid change, a new starter, or a new wire. I'll try these to find out what my starter needs. Thanks for the tips!

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