October is Car Care Month. Don’t let the boring name fool you, and don’t dismiss it as a nationwide marketing ploy. The Car Care Council began this annual rite as a reminder to car-owners that you don’t mess with winter. Costly things happen when you don’t prep for the chilly months.
About 100,000 disabling injuries occur each year as a result of neglectful vehicle maintenance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These injuries are from more than crashes. They’re also due to things like physical assaults on stranded drivers. And about 1 out of 10 vehicle crashes are due to mechanical defects or worn-out equipment. A little cash spent on preventive maintenance seem trifling in light of the stats. Here are some things to have checked:
Battery. Batteries are much less efficient when temperatures plummet. In fact, chilly weather can actually halve your vehicle’s battery power, so don’t make matters even worse by running on a compromised battery. Get your battery’s cables, clamps, terminals, and power checked before the weather turns.
Brakes. There’s no such thing as “good enough” brakes. If your brakes have sub-par performance on a dry road, they’ll be even more dangerous on slushy, icy, or snowy roads. Any good winter-prep plan will include a check of your braking system, including brake fluid quality and levels.
Belts and hoses. Cold temps can accelerate the deterioration of rubber. You can check on your own for things like cracking and exposed fabric, but it’s better to have the job done by a qualified auto tech. They’re better trained to eagle-eye problems—and, of course, have the resources to fix or replace them.
Heater. Compromised heating efficiency can be due to anything from a bad cabin filter to low antifreeze. Remember that antifreeze doesn’t just keep your car’s interior toasty. It also protects your engine from freezing. Also be sure your defrost functions (both front and rear) are working.
Wipers and Wiper Fluid. If you don’t have a clear view of the road, you’re playing with fire. Wiper blades usually last for about six months. Replace them in October and April (or sooner, if need be), and make sure you use washer fluid that has antifreeze properties.
Most preventive maintenance is very affordable compared with the eventual costs of not doing it. Saving a hundred or two dollars today is simply not worth the risk your health, life, or second-biggest financial investment in the month to come. Come see us during Car Care Month to get your car ready for the cold season ahead!