Fall is the perfect time to give your car a good look over, as summer is past and winter is soon to follow. Summer and winter are the toughest seasons on any car as extreme temperature variations can test your car. Cooler fall weather means you're in the mood to work on your car any way, something you'll want to accomplish before the first cold snap hits and winter settles in and your car is tested once again.
Let's take a look at some "must do" checks as you inspect your car this fall.
1. Tires. When was the last time your rotated your tires? As a matter of fact, when was the last time you checked them for wear and tear? If your tires are showing signs of wear, they may need replacing or at least a full rotation. Rotate your tires and adjust the air pressure to the required level.
2. Battery. Car batteries can last for as little as two or three years, or for five years or longer. Much depends on the condition of your battery, its quality and how often you drive. Check the battery connections, removing gunk build up on the terminals and securing the cables back in place. If the battery is old or low on charge, replace it before winter.
3. Fluids. If you haven't had an oil change in six months or 5,000 miles get it done now. Replace the oil and oil filter, and check other fluids including power steering, brake and transmissions fluids. Top off the washer solvent and inspect your coolant system.
4. Belts and hoses. Following a hot summer, your car's belts and hoses may be frayed or worn. Check for signs of wear and replace immediately. Cracks can soon turn into breaks, leaving you stranded if a belt gives way or a hose splits.
5. Wipers. Heat can damage wipers and your wipers should be replaced twice annually -- in spring and again in the fall. Streaking wipers or a clouded windshield are signs that your wipers need to be replaced.
6. HVAC. You ran the air-conditioner all summer and will soon be running the heater all winter. Replace the a/c filter and if heating or cooling is not adequate, it may be time for a freon replacement or heating coil change.
7. Suspension. Wear and tear on your car's suspension system can result in a rough ride. Shocks, struts and various chassis parts such as your tie rods and ball joints may need to be replaced. Check your brakes too -- pads, linings and rotors wear out.
If your car hasn't had a tune up, check the owner's manual to see when one is due. Today's cars can go much further between tune ups, but an air filter may need to be replaced or your emissions system checked.
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