Getting your car ready for winter driving is more than just a good idea; it saves money and might save your life.
Champion Laboratories, makers of Champ, Lee and Lee Maxi filters, offers the following tips:- Oil and filter: If you're not changing your oil every 3,000 miles or every three months, the chance is your engine is wearing out more quickly. New oil cleans, cools and seals the engine's internal parts and prevents metal-to-metal contact. Be sure, too, that the oil you are using is the right thickness for your engine and the temperatures where you live.
- Air filter: Bugs, road dirt and other debris accumulate on the air filter and can restrict the engine's air intake system. That can lead to inefficient engine operation and wasted gas.
- Antifreeze: Check the temperature protection level of the antifreeze in the cooling system. Will it withstand the lowest temperatures you might experience where you travel? Consider draining and replacing coolant that is more than 2 years old. Don't forget to clean the overflow reservoir. Before replacing the antifreeze, check hoses for cracking, soft areas or other signs of age and wear.
- Engine dirt: If the engine looks dirty, a commercially sold degreaser should help. Follow the directions and don't let it get too near exterior paint surfaces. Rinse the engine thoroughly after cleaning.
- Fluid levels: Check brake, transmission and power steering fluid levels.
- Brakes: Inspecting the brake system can reveal any leaking component, such as the master cylinder, brake actuator or any inter-connecting lines or hose that should be rebuilt or replaced. If the brake lining material shows signs of extreme wear or evidence of fluid soaking, it should be replaced.
- Tires: Look for excessive or irregular wear. An alignment specialist should check out any irregular wear. Keeping tires properly inflated can make tires last longer, save gas and improve handling.
- Exhaust system: Check for leakage or damaged components. Because the vehicle's windows are usually closed during cooler months, the potential for exhaust leakage increases.
- Wash and wax: Should go without saying, but summer's accumulation of tar, dirt and bugs can be easily removed with any of several commercially sold cleaners.