Don't wait for winter to winterize vehicle
So the oppressive heat has subsided. As the sun sets, temperatures fall and no doubt you'll throw on a jacket to stay warm. It's the first sign of cooler temperatures — and foul weather to come. You never know when you might need to drive somewhere that is experiencing an early dose of Old Man Winter. Remember, the Northeast got clobbered with a blizzard last October.
I know it's early. You're just getting used to wiping the dew off your car in the morning, not frost. But now is the time to make sure it's ready for the onslaught that may come.
Let's start with something few of us regularly check: tires.
If you haven't checked the air pressure in your tires since August, you should; they're probably under-inflated. A tire loses one pound of pressure for every 10-degree drop in ambient temperature.
Be sure to measure each tire, and the spare, when it's cold. Check at least three hours after they've been driven anywhere. The correct tire pressure for the car's tires is listed on the driver's side door jamb or on the glove box door. The tire pressure listed on the tire is its maximum pressure when hot. Do not use that number.
If you've recently purchased a new car or truck, it has tire pressure monitors to alert you to low tire pressure. That isn't true with older vehicles. So, while you're checking the tires, make sure they have adequate tread. Just place a penny into the tread's groove. Lincoln's head should face downward. If you can see the top of his head, it's time to replace your tires.
Battery efficiency also declines with the temperature. Cold weather slows a battery's chemical reaction, generating fewer electrons, reducing the electricity available to get it started.
The best guideline is this: If your vehicle's battery is three or four years old, it's most likely nearing the end of its useful life. Its abilities are sure to be tested as the mercury plummets. So, you might want to have it tested at your next oil change. Or, better yet, replace it.
Under the hood, have a mechanic examine your vehicle's belts and hoses for signs of wear. Also, have the engine's coolant checked. Consider having it replaced if your vehicle is several years old and the coolant never has been changed.
Replace your wiper blades if they're more than a year or two old.
Inspect headlights, tail lights, fog lights and turn signals to make sure they're functioning.
If you have an older car or truck, have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks. This is the time of year when you'll drive with the windows shut.
In case of foul weather, flip the car mats so that snow and gravel soil the rubberized backing, not the carpet. Also, because you'll be spending a lot of time in your ride, clean the interior.
And you do have an emergency road kit in your trunk, right? If not, pre-assembled emergency and first-aid kits are available at auto parts stores.
If you have any questions about your vehicle's maintenance requirements, crack open the owner's manual.
These simple, low-cost routine tips can ensure trouble-free driving in the coming months.
Larry Printz is automotive editor at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va.; email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $37B deal
- Critics find hotels’ hidden fees to be inhospitable
- U.S. calls Fiat Chrysler recall record dismal
- Facebook lures premium content from YouTube
- 2Q mutual fund review: Momentum stalls
- U.S. employers add 223K jobs, jobless rate falls to 5.3%
- H-D Advanced Manufacturing in Franklin Park buys aerospace components maker Firstmark
- Stocks end tumultuous week on down note
- SEC votes to expand clawbacks of executive bonuses
- U.S. Steel, Alcoa lead June decline
- Kraft shareholders approve merger with Heinz