The coming of fall means winter will soon follow, so local experts and the AAA remind motorists that cars need periodic checkups to maintain safety and maximize efficiency.
Steve Burhen of Becker Tire in Great Bend recommends motorists use a simple checklist to determine their vehicle’s fall and winter maintenance needs. Many of the items on the list can be inspected by a car owner in less than an hour, but others should be performed by a certified technician.
• Most automobiles are equipped with TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) sensors that alert the driver when air pressure drops below a certain level. As the temperature drops in the fall and winter season, the air pressure in your tires will also drop. Sometimes this drop due to temperature will activate your TPMS light on the dash. When this happens, take your vehicle to a reputable service facility and they will check your tires and get your pressure to the proper level for your vehicle and the load it is carrying.
• Always have a reputable service facility check your cooling system before cold weather sets in. They will make sure that your system is capable of withstanding the colder weather and keep your car in working order.
• Have your alignment checked at regular intervals. If the alignment on your vehicle is not within manufacturers specifications you may experience abnormal tire wear and/or handling issues.
Harsh winter conditions make your vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. AAA recommends that motorists:
• Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather. AAA members can request a visit from a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test their battery and replace it on-site, if necessary. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can also test and replace weak batteries.
• Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather.
• Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
• Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
• Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
• Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of winter snow tires may be a wise investment.
Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include:
• Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
• Drinking water
• First-aid kit
• Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
• Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
• Snow shovel
• Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• Window washer solvent
• Ice scraper with brush
• Cloth or roll of paper towels
• Jumper cables
• Warning devices (flares or triangles)
• Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)