Top Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Car in the Fall | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

Top Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Car in the Fall

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car maintenance

Regular car maintenance can preserve the life of your engine. October is National Car Care Month. Learn what you should do to properly care for your car and get it outfitted for winter.


Fall is here so it’s time to start planning for bitter winds, drifting snow, and icy roads that can complicate your morning commute. Here are our top tips for cleaning and maintaining your car this fall.


Time to Think About Your Tires

Depending on where you live, snow tires may be in order once October draws to a close.  Tires should have plenty of tread or you could lose traction when you meet a patch of ice or water on the roads. Even if you aren’t expecting lots of ice or snow, mud tires may still be a better choice if runoff makes your driveway hard to access during the season.

A visit to our Scott’s Fort Collins Auto shop can help you get that tire pressure  and tread check that you need to support responsible car maintenance.


Car Maintenance 101: Get Your Breaks Checked

When it comes to winterizing a vehicle, brake service should be on the top of the list.Worn down pads or warped rotors can leave you without the power you need to stop in the winter. Wet and icy roads call for brakes in peak condition. You can check the brakes for signs of wear yourself, but be sure to have a professional inspection done as well.


Test the Battery

Winter temperatures mean your engine has to work harder to get going. Batteries should be in prime condition so you can rely on a smooth start.  Diagnostic testing by a professional can determine if battery health is equipped to last the season.

Car batteries that have been in use for four+ years likely need replacement before the onslaught of cold temperatures. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations on when to get a new battery for best performance.


Check Your Windshield Wipers

Dirt and salt from the roads often accumulates on the windshield when cruising down winter roads. Without flexible and tough windshield wipers, your vision could become obscured by an unexpected rain storm or a splash of mud.

As part of your car maintenance and prep for Fall, ensure your car has plenty of windshield cleaning fluid and a new pair of wipers. Even if your wipers aren’t cracking or squeaking yet, this simple change can be life saving in an unexpected scenario. Clearing the windshield is one of the most important safety features on the vehicle, so don’t overlook this essential seasonal task.


Restore Hazy Headlights

Hazy headlights are no small matter in winter weather.  Without proper lighting, road hazards are more difficult to avoid.  Severely foggy headlights can reduce visibility by up to 50 percent, so this is obviously a safety hazard. On top of this, hazy headlights are an eyesore.

Seek professional headlight restoration so a technician with experience and training can remove haziness from headlights accurately and efficiently.  An application of professional plastic sealant ensures your headlights won’t become foggy again for many months to come.

As an added bonus, taking your car to a shop for headlight repair gives you the chance to check for condensation inside the lens. This indicates a leaky seal, which requires prompt repair to prevent the bulb from burning out.


Make Sure Defrost is Working

Dipping nighttime temperatures leave the windshield and rear window frosted over and impossible to see through to get started. There is no need to wait minutes or half an hour to get on the road when you can turn on the defroster and immediately see results. Test the defrosting units and heaters at the same time to keep the car cozy and ready to go.


Have an Emergency Kit in the Car

You never plan on getting stranded in a vehicle during the winter, but it can become a serious situation very quickly. When putting together a basic kit, consider having the following items on hand:

  • Snow chains or tire spikes for ice storms.
  • A bag of plain clay cat litter to help you get out of slippery spots or to soak up spilled fluids.
  • A basic first aid kit with bandages and pain killers.
  • Emergency blankets or warm suits.
  • Equipment for changing your tires and one to two spares.


Visually Inspect Cables, Belts, and Hoses

Finish your winter chore checklist by giving the various belts, hoses, and cables a quick visual inspection. Belts show signs of damage through fraying or a shiny, cracked surface. Hoses may come loose from their connections, crack, or crumble away altogether. Battery cables are especially easy to check – damage to the outer cover and exposed wire indicate serious problems. A technician should be the one to look over your wiring and inspect the fuses. These tasks don’t take more than half an hour, but they provide a lot of protection against little problems that can leave you stranded.

For questions about winter car maintenance, our services, or to schedule an appointment, please contact Scott’s Fort Collins Auto at (970) 682-4202.

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