Let’s face it, breaking down stinks! With winter just around the corner, making sure your vehicle is ready for the cooler temperatures and harsher driving conditions is vital to keeping your vehicle on the road. Winter weather amplifies problems like hard starts, dead car battery, rough idling and fluid reliability.

Here’s our Fall Car Care Checklist which you can use to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape and avoid getting stranded in the cold.

Wipers & Lights

  • Consider equipping your vehicle with winter wiper blades and using cold-weather washer fluid. Winter wipers protect you and your passengers by preventing snow and ice build-up.
  • Check to make sure that all interior and exterior lights work and are properly aimed.  This is critical when driving in snowy weather for other drivers to see you and help you see the road.

Heater & Defrost

  • Test your heater and defrost to make sure they work properly. Expert tip – Turn on the A/C to speed up the defrost process.  You can leave the heat temperature up so you don’t have to suffer.

Tires & Brakes

  • Check the tire tread of all tires, including the spare. Consider buying a set of winter tires.  They help grip the road better and provide you with better stopping capability.
  • Check your tire pressure often.  Cold weather contracts the air in your tires, lowering the tire pressure which makes for dangerous driving on slick roads.
  • Have the brakes checked. Expert tip – Brake gently to avoid sliding. If your wheels lock up, ease off the brake.

Gas, Oil & Filters

  • Keep your tank over the half way mark to prevent moisture from forming in your gas lines and possibly freezing.
  • Make sure you get your oil checked at regular intervals.  That is typically every 3,000-5,000 miles depending on your vehicle manufacturer. This is a good tip any time of the year but in cooler conditions, dirty oil can cause serious problems.  Use the recommended oil viscosity range for winter.
  • Check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time. As a general rule, these need to be changed every 12 months or 12,000 miles and will help get your vehicle running smoothly.

Electrical, Cooling & Exhaust

  • Get the battery and charging system checked.  Cold weather is hard on batteries and can leave you stranded if your battery runs out of juice. Expert tip – Charge your battery at night or when the vehicle is not in use with a portable battery charger. It will increase the life of the battery.
  • Check your antifreeze. The ideal mixture of coolant and water inside your vehicle’s radiator is a 50:50 ratio. If your coolant ratio deviates from the recommended 50:50, it can cause the coolant to freeze or vehicle performance problems.
  • Check your exhaust system for carbon monoxide leaks. Because most modern vehicles have cabin air filters, it brings air from the outside into your car which can be dangerous. Expert tip – If you have any inkling that you have a carbon monoxide leak, don’t run your heater or defrost and get it in to be check immediately.

Emergency Kits

Many companies create pre-assembled emergency car kits which are a good way to ensure you have everything you might need if your car breaks down. Alternatively, you can put together your own using this list of recommended items:

  • Flashlight and Flares
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food and Water
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tool Kit
  • Tire Chains
  • Blanket and Warm Clothes
  • Hat and Gloves
  • Paper Towels
  • Bag of Sand, Salt or Kitty Litter
  • Snow Brush and Ice Scraper
  • Folding Snow Shovel
  • Extra Winter Washer Fluid

With these tips, good car maintenance and winterizing your vehicle, you’ll be ready to hit the road this winter!