Before you do anything else, read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.
Get engine performance and driveability problems — hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc. — corrected at a reputable repair shop that employs ASE-certified repair professionals. Cold weather makes existing problems worse.
Replace dirty filters, such as air, fuel, and PCV. A poorly running engine is less efficient and burns more gasoline.
As the temperature drops below freezing, add a bottle of fuel deicer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping the gas tank filled also helps prevent moisture from forming.
Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual — more often if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips. A poll of ASE Master Auto Technicians revealed that regular oil and filter changes is one of the most frequently neglected services, yet one that is essential to protect your engine.
The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended. Do-It-Yourselfers: Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses also should be checked regularly by a professional technician.
The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.
Replace old blades regularly. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent — you’ll be surprised how much you use during the winter months. And don’t forget to always carry an ice scraper.
Fall is here and its arrival means fewer hours of daylight and upcoming holiday travel. Before hitting the road, it is a wise idea to make sure your vehicle’s lights are in proper working order, says the non-profit Car Care Council.
“Lights play a critical role in safe driving, as the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “From the driver’s seat you may not notice a light that isn’t working, so inspect all of your car’s lights and replace those that are out.”
Lights are normal wear items that require periodic inspection and replacement. The vehicle lighting system provides nighttime visibility; signals and alerts other drivers; and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior. In addition to replacing dimming, rapidly blinking and non-functioning lights, the following tips can help keep you safe:
Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights from being seen by others.
Make sure that your headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
If there is any doubt on whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on. Lights not only help you see better in early twilight, they also make it easier for other drivers to see you.
Don’t overdrive your headlights; you should be able to stop inside the illuminated area, otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
“Some states have laws that require the headlights to be on with the wipers,” said White. “Keeping your vehicle’s lights properly cared for and replacing wiper blades periodically will help ensure a safer ride, keeping the road ahead well-lit and giving you a clear view.”
For more information on vehicle lighting, service interval schedules, questions to ask a technician and tips to drive smart and save money, view the Car Care Council’s free digital Car Care Guide online at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.
The non-profit Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.
With the average price of gas dipping below two dollars per gallon for the first time since 2009, many motorists have been seeing a real savings at the pump. Putting some of that savings toward basic auto care can lead to more miles per gallon and, in turn, more savings, says the non-profit Car Care Council.
The Car Care Council encourages motorists to be car care aware and perform these five simple steps to improve fuel economy and save money.
Check Tire Pressure: Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent.
Use the Right Motor Oil: Improve gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent by using the grade of motor oil recommended by the manufacturer.
Replace Clogged Air Filters: Replacing clogged air filters on older vehicles can improve fuel economy and will improve performance and acceleration on all vehicles.
Check Engine Performance: Keep your engine running efficiently and improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
Fix It: Addressing a serious maintenance problem, like a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent, according to www.fueleconomy.gov.
“Proactive vehicle maintenance is a motorist’s best money saving tip,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Routine auto care not only helps save on fuel costs, but it helps identify small issues so they can be serviced before they become bigger and more costly to repair.”To help motorists increase fuel economy and take better care of their vehicles, the Car Care Council offers valuable tools on its website, including a free personalized schedule and email reminder service.The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.
The tires are the only thing between the vehicle and the road. When they are properly inflated and in good condition, the handling, stability and safety of the vehicle will be maximized. Conversely, when the tires are under inflated, worn out or damaged, all of the safety systems on the vehicle cannot overcome the loss of control that comes with a blow-out or hydroplaning situation. Air pressure in a tire is like oil in an engine; when it is low, the resulting internal damage is unseen until it is too late. Tires naturally lose 1-2 psi per month, so ongoing neglect will eventually result in a tire that cannot support the weight of the vehicle and the occupants. When this happens, the resulting blow-out can result in the loss of control and an accident.
It’s also important to rotate the tires on the vehicle every 5-7,000 miles. Today’s front-wheel-drive vehicles cause the steer tires to wear at a much faster rate than the tires on the rear axle. By periodically rotating the front tires to the back and the back tires to the front, motorists can achieve even treadwear on all four tires and increase the mileage and performance. Failing to rotate the tires often results in the front tires wearing out faster while the rear tires develop irregular treadwear patterns that cause vibrations. The same can be said for alignments. When the vehicle is not properly aligned, the tires will wear out faster which leads to increased operating costs.
Finally, drivers should perform a visual inspection of their tires on a regular basis, especially after hitting a pothole, curb or any type of road debris. Bulges, cuts and other visible damage weaken the internal components of the tire, which can lead to a blow-out. Regular visual inspections will often identify any potential problems before they result in an accident. It’s also a good idea to have the tires inspected by a professional before any long road trips to ensure there are no obvious out-of-service conditions that must be addressed.