Depending on your feelings about cold weather, the first day of fall could mean different things to you. Perhaps autumn means pumpkin spice everything, or it’s your cue to put up your Halloween decorations. Or maybe you’re ready to hibernate. If you live where the air hurts your face half the year, then the autumn equinox is also a good time to prepare your car or truck for the oncoming weather changes and related road hazards. Get prepared with these fall car care tips.
Get Your Car Ready This Autumn
Besides purchasing an air freshener to keep your car fresh now that you’ll be keeping your windows up, we have a few more ideas to help you get your vehicle ready.
Pack a Cold-Weather Emergency Kit
Consider this list as your very own grownup scavenger hunt! Get yourself a box that you can tuck to one side of your trunk or cargo area, and fill it up with the following:
- Fire extinguisher (dry chemical type)
- Portable phone charger with a full charge
- Jumper cables
- A thermal blanket
- Hand warmers
- First-aid kit
- Flares and/or traffic cones or triangles
- Handheld snow shovel
- Extra sets of gloves and socks
- Container of sand (for traction)
- Bottled water
Check Fluid Levels
Even with a stocked emergency kit, breaking down in the cold is the opposite of fun. Don’t risk running out of important fluids like antifreeze, oil, and windshield washer fluid.
If you haven’t had an oil change recently, the beginning of fall is a good time to make sure you’re up to date on it. If it has been 5,000 miles or more, or 3 months if you’ve lost track of the mileage, since your last oil change, you might want to at least check if it’s due. Some vehicles can go 7,500+ miles between oil changes, but it’s still best to check your oil level and quality regularly.
When the icy grips of winter descend from the heavens, you’re going to need a good antifreeze to keep your engine from freezing over like the underworld did that one time when you defied your mother’s wishes. Get a head start this fall! Make sure that you buy the right formula for your climate and car—you can ask your mechanic or look it up in your owner’s manual. Also, read the instructions on the bottle. Some types will require you to add water, and others will come premixed.
Windshield Washer Fluid
As dirty leaves fall onto your windshield, and entire flocks of birds christen your car as they fly south, you’ll need windshield washer fluid to help you see the road. More often than not, we don’t realize that we’ve run out of this oft-forgotten window cleanser until we try to use it and it doesn’t work. You can break the cycle this time around.
Check Your Tire Pressure
As the outside temperature falls, the air pressure in your tires will decrease somewhat—about 1 pound per square inch, or psi, per 10 degrees. Plus, your tires will gradually lose pressure over time anyway. Take a look in your owner’s manual or in the driver’s side door jamb to find out how much tire air pressure you should keep. Then, try to add air when your tires are cold—at least two hours after driving—for accuracy.
A good wax and polish with an undercarriage treatment can also help preserve your paint and protect your automobile from rust. Then, keep up with weekly car washes throughout the rainy and snowy seasons, especially when there’s salt on the roads. Hopefully, if you do all these things, you’ll stay safe this fall and through the winter, and you’ll keep your car looking nice as well.