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Pre-Winter Maintenance

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On: Sun, Sep 25, 2011 at 3:14PM | By: Peter C Sessler

Pre-Winter Maintenance

Do some pre-winter maintenance now because you know the good weather won’t last. This is the time to get your car in shape for the miserable months ahead. Maybe the Farmer’s Almanac says we’ll have a warm winter, but winter it still is. So at the minimum, you should perform the following preventative maintenance steps.

If your battery is over three years old, there’s a good chance it probably won’t last through the winter—even if it’s a 60- or 72-month unit. Three years seems to be the lifespan, no matter what they say. There are a few things you can do to make sure your battery is in tip-top shape. First, make sure the terminal ends are clean—use a battery wire brush to clean them. Secondly, even though practically all batteries today are “maintenance-free”, check the electrolyte level by prying-off the covers and filling any low cells with distilled water. Don’t use tap water.

If your tires have less than half of the original tread left, I’d seriously consider replacing them. You need all the tread you can get driving in snow and slush. Otherwise, check air pressure regularly and make sure you have a fully functional spare in the trunk—temporary or otherwise.

Wiper Blades
Here’s another item that doesn’t get changed often enough. If you can’t remember when your wipers were changed last, replace them now. Also keep a spare container of windshield wiper fluid in your trunk.

If you’re not sure if you need to have your anti-freeze changed, just get one of those anti-freeze testers and check yours out by yourself. If the tester indicates it’s time, might as well have your cooling system reverse flushed while you’re at it. Not only will you be ready for winter, but for next summer as well.

Under-Hood Check
Take a look at all the hoses and belts. If you happen to notice small cracks on the hose ends or excessive bulging, consider changing them now. Take a look at the fan/serpentine belts, too. If there are numerous small cracks on the underside, it’s time for a new belt. Check all fluid levels while you’re at it, too.

Exhaust System
Exhaust systems today are considerably longer-lasting then they ever used to—at least from the factory. Replacement pipes and mufflers don’t often last as long, especially cheapie mufflers (even those that are guaranteed for life). Get under your car to see if the muffler and exhaust pipes are still solid and “ring” when you tap them with a hammer.

There are lots more areas to check out—it all depends on you. I prefer doing a marathon maintenance before the weather gets bad. Besides doing all of the above, change the oil and perform any other scheduled maintenance that might be due within the next month or so. Have your car thoroughly cleaned inside and out and touch-up any small chips and scratches you may find. Give your car a good wax job, too.

In this way, you won’t be caught unaware when the bad weather finally hits us. You’ll be glad you did.


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