Routine maintenance is a good way to prevent problems with your car, but it becomes especially important as the days get shorter during winter. Where to start?
- Look at the owner’s manual. It will tell you what the manufacturer recommends when it comes to scheduling specific services. Do what the manufacturer suggests. Neglecting routine maintenance shortens the life of your car and makes it more likely that at some point the car will develop a serious problem.
- If you notice a problem with engine performance, especially if it affects your ability to drive, get it checked out by a reputable shop. This includes issues such as diminished power, hard starts, rough idling, and stalling. How can you make sure you have a reputable shop? Look for technicians who have been certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) so you know they are qualified to service and repair your car.
- Keep your tank full and use fuel de-icer in your tank about once a month. Doing both prevents moisture from freezing in the fuel lines; a full tank prevents the moisture from happening, and the de-icer prevents the moisture from freezing.
- Have someone check on drive belts, clamps, and hoses to make sure they are in good condition and are connected correctly. In addition, have the brakes checked and have a technician check the exhaust system while the car is on a lift, and make sure there aren’t any small holes in the trunk and the floorboards.
- Make sure the heater and defroster are working correctly. It’s not just a matter of comfort. The heater and defroster also help keep the windshield clear so the driver can see through it. Check all the lights, the treads on the tires, the condition of the spare, tire air pressure, and the jack. The best time to check the air pressure in your tires is when the tires are cool.
- You probably replace windshield blades as soon as they stop working as effectively, but if you live in a place with severe winter weather, you should also buy winter blades that can better deal with ice. In addition, make sure you have plenty of windshield washer solvent and always carry a good ice scraper in the car.
- Carry an emergency kit with you. Items like boots, blankets, a cell phone and a charger, chains, flares, a flashlight and some extra batteries, gloves, high-energy snacks, sand or kitty litter, and a small shovel are all good choices.