With cold weather approaching, time for a tuneup

Time to give your car the tuneup it needs to run smoothly with the cold weather approaching.

The summer travel season is well over, but now we’re heading into the holiday season. Whether or not your longest travel days are ahead or behind you, it’s a good idea to give your car a thorough examination right now, especially as colder weather begins to take over.

A sure sign that your vehicle is due for a tuneup is if you receive a “check engine” notice on your dashboard. Although these alerts may be for nothing other than filling up your windshield washer fluid, sometimes the damage is already done. As you might imagine, getting it fixed isn’t cheap. According to a recent study done by automotive information services firm CarMD, the average “check engine” light-related repair costs nearly $400 – not exactly a drop in the bucket for any family.

The following are a few things that you should be sure to do so you can avoid paying an arm and a leg to have it fixed.

Change the oil

When is the last time you had your oil changed? Generally speaking, motor oil should be swapped out for a new batch every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. When you change your oil, make a note of what the mileage. Put it somewhere safe so you’ll know when to have the oil changed again.

Check fluids

Your engine wouldn’t run the way it needs to without the proper lubrication. Take a look at your various tanks to see if they need filling. This is especially important now that the cold weather is approaching, as antifreeze helps control the engine’s temperature so it’s not running too hot or too cold. Take a look at the power steering fluid, brake, and transmission fluid as well.

Test the wipers

The windshield wipers are perhaps the most neglected part of the car. After all, you really only need them if it’s snowing or raining out. But when the weather gets colder, underperforming wipers can spell disaster. The moment that your wipers cause excessive streaking – preventing you from being able to see clearly – it’s time to have them changed. You’ll notice immediately the difference between old blades and new blades once you get them installed.

Examine tires

As sports fans well know, there’s been an awful lot of talk about deflated footballs in years past. But the real “Deflategate” isn’t about footballs, but underinflated tires. According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, an estimated 70 percent of all vehicles have at least one underinflated tire. This worsens driving performance and can increase the risk of an accident. Check your tire pressure monthly to ensure it’s at the PSI specifications listed on the sidewall of your tires.

The Car Care Council has more information for how you can be “Car Care Aware” each and every day.