Happy Car Care Month! That’s right! October is officially Car Care Month, so there is no better time than now to get your car cold-weather ready. Quanz Auto Body has compiled a guide to help you prepare your car for fall and winter inside and out.
Exterior Car Care
At Quanz Auto Body, we recommend quarterly washing, polishing and waxing. October is the start of a new quarter, so it’s time to remove all the gunk from late summer and put on a protective coat for the winter.
We’ve already provided detailed instructions for how to wash your car properly, but in case you’re pressed for time, here are the highlights:
- Use two buckets when washing—one to suds-up, one to rinse to minimize sediment in your sponge or microfiber mitt that can scratch your paint
- Use a cleaning solution formulated for vehicles, not dishwashing liquid
- Polish and wax aren’t the same thing—you need both
- Spray waxes will not provide the protection your vehicle needs against winter elements
If you’ve been keeping up with washing and waxing, then a drive-thru car wash may be enough to remove dirt, droppings, sap, etc. But, no drive-thru wax treatment will come close to providing the level of protection of a manually applied wax.
Once the body is washed and waxed, turn your attention to your headlamps. Longer nights mean you need them more frequently, and you need their full intensity, which you can only get if they aren’t cloudy. You can remove the headlamp cover and remove any residue yourself (it can usually be done effectively with toothbrush and toothpaste). However, this is a time-consuming process. It may be worth the money to have professionals do it.
Under-the-Hood Car Care
Fall and winter are some of the least opportune times to get stranded, so do a little preventative maintenance to increase the chances of always getting to your chosen destination.
Any local auto parts store can check your battery charge. If your charge is weak, you don’t necessarily have to change your batter immediately. But, it would be a good idea to purchase a new battery so that you have it on hand when yours is dead. If you’re on a shoestring budget, at least make sure you have jumper cables with you at all times.
Even if you have everything you need to fix a flat, that doesn’t make changing your tire or patching it any less inconvenient. Better to prevent flats in the first place, which requires making sure you have adequate pressure.
Because tire pressure is affected by temperature, to get an accurate reading, you need to check tire pressure before you drive. If your tires are low, go to the nearest air station so that tire temperature changes minimally between one pressure check and the next.
Traction is of the utmost importance during seasons when you may encounter rain, snow, ice and other slip hazards. While 2/32” tread may be considered adequate for paved road driving, you really need closer to 6/32” to ensure that your tires can channel water away from your tires to keep grip on the road. If you’re doing the penny test, the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the tails side should be covered. If it’s not, it’s time for new tires.
Make sure to check tread in multiple places on the same tire. This will help you identify uneven wear, and that may help you identify alignment or balance issues. If tread depth varies on a single tire, get your car to a mechanic for an alignment and balancing check.
It should go without saying that your brakes should have adequate padding to ensure optimal brake performance for the fall…but we’re going to say it anyway. Get your brakes inspected to find out if your pads can get you through the fall and winter months or if it is in your best interests to change them before they get too thin and become a safety risk.
If you’re under the hood, you might as well check and top-off all your most vital fluids—windshield washer fluid (use a cold-temperature formula so that it doesn’t ice on contact with a cold windshield), oil and coolant. If any reservoirs are low, top-off and watch for pools beneath your car. If you see bright yellow or green, you’ve got a leak in the coolant system. If you see patch with an oily sheen, oil is leaking. In such a case, get your vehicle to a mechanic ASAP.
You can do a lot of fall car care by yourself. But if you do not have the time or familiarity with what’s going on under the hood, bring your vehicle to Quanz Auto Body. Our ASE-certified technicians can perform a multi-point inspection and preventative maintenance to help ensure your car’s reliable performance. Contact us to schedule an appointment at our Westside location.