September is here once again, and that means it’s time to get your car in gear for the new school year. Whether you’re a parent who is on drop-off and/or pick-up duty or a student who drives yourself to high school or college, you know how important it is to have reliable transportation. In fact, a capable car is basically mandatory in order to make it a successful school year, because that’s how you get to class safely and on-time before the first bell rings.
Furthermore, considering that the weather begins to turn colder in many states around this time of year, taking care of your car should be a top priority anyway. Staying on top of routine auto maintenance can, of course, help keep your car running smoother, looking better, and living longer, in addition to potentially preventing pricey repairs. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you address the following ten areas of your vehicle before heading back to school!
Replace Your Windshield Wipers
Though this may not seem to be a major concern, driving with deteriorated wiper blades can be kind of dangerous. The extreme summer heat combined with the lack of rain can make rubber wiper blades dry out, crack, and fall apart. This essentially makes them ineffective when the autumn rains finally do fall, so now is a good time to check them out and determine if new ones are necessary. That way you’ll be able to see clearly in the next torrential downpour or snowstorm.
Check ALL Your Tires
When the outside temperatures begin to drop, so does the pressure in your car’s tires. So be sure to check the pressure periodically on all of your tires, including the spare. All you need in order to check the pressure is a single tool called a tire pressure gauge, and it’s easy to use. The fluctuating temperatures in the fall can consequently cause your tire pressure to fluctuate, so monitor them regularly to ensure your vehicle is running as efficiently as possible. Additionally, conduct a tire tread inspection to make sure they’re not too worn down and that there is enough traction for the weather ahead.
Fill Up On Your Fluids
A car relies on many different fluids to run correctly. However, some are much more vital than others, and if you’re low on just one important fluid, it can certainly cause some problems. Because of this, you must monitor these reservoir levels periodically to make sure your ride is ready for frequent use during the school year. Washer fluid, brake fluid, and antifreeze are a few of the things you should check before it gets too cold to comfortably do so. Then you’ll have one less thing to worry about as you roll into winter.
Replace Your Air Filter
Unfortunately, this is often overlooked, and a clean/unclogged air filter is important for your vehicle’s optimal performance. A filthy air filter leads to a loss in fuel efficiency, negatively affects the emissions, and can certainly cause your car to run poorly in general. The filter should be replaced once or twice per year, depending on how much driving you do, so now might be just the right time!
Clean Your Battery Terminals
Regardless of your car’s age, your batteries will eventually develop corrosion and metallic residue on the battery posts, where the cables are attached. This condition can delay the current of electricity running to your vehicle’s electrical components. Using a small wire brush to clean the residue off the posts can easily remedy this. Be sure to disconnect the cables first then reattach them firmly to the battery after cleaning the terminals/posts.
Suspension and Steering
Your vehicle’s suspension and front-end alignment are also an important factor in your car performing properly. That’s why these areas should also be checked every year or so, and before winter would be ideal. If you’re not knowledgeable in this department, begin by asking your mechanic to take a look at the steering components, ball joints, and the tire rods.
Heater and Defroster
These are two things that you probably won’t realize aren’t working until you really need them. Don’t risk being late for school because you can’t get the frost off your windows. The heater and defroster must be in proper working condition for both safety and comfort. If the heat is not functioning properly, then the heater core may not be doing its job. A bad water pump or failed thermostat can keep your car from getting warm, and nobody wants to be freezing, especially first thing in the morning.
Your brake system is, of course, one of the most critical parts of your car. That’s why a periodic inspection by a certified technician is definitely recommended. This is a complex system and brake pads aren’t the only components you need to be concerned with. The initial sign of excessive brake-pad wear is a squealing sound. The sound occurs when the metal wear indicator on the pads rubs against the brake rotor, alerting the driver that service is needed. Moreover, a loud grinding sound means that replacement is required and the worn-out brake pads may be damaging the rotors. So if you wait too long, the rotors will have to be replaced as well.
Oil changes are probably the most common and frequently needed of auto maintenance services. Letting this go is a big no-no, and if you haven’t had it changed in the last 4 months or 3,000 miles, it’s a good idea to do so sooner rather than later. If your vehicle is already gonna be at the shop for something else, just go ahead and have them take care of your oil change at the same time.
Just because the serious summer heat is almost over and you probably won’t need your AC for a while, your car’s cooling system still needs to be in top condition. Therefore, have your mechanic examine the cooling system’s many components. This includes the radiator, coolant level, belts and hoses, cooling fans, heater core, and water pump.
Be smart! Don’t start the school year with a poorly maintained car, or one that requires repairs. In fact, fall is when you should really begin with winter preparation of your vehicle anyway. So, if you would like to get your car in gear and you live near Aurora, Colorado, be sure to contact our highly capable car technicians at Tune Tech Automotive. Either send us an email or call us at 303.364.3391 and we’ll be happy to help by answering any maintenance questions you may have and/or scheduling an appointment to repair or service your vehicle.