Getting Your Car Ready for Fall

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Summer is starting to fade and, with it, the warm temperatures. Fall is lovely — there’s pumpkin pie, warm sweaters and colorful leaves. On the flip-side, you face cold weather and possible snow.

Don’t get stranded on the side of the road. Instead, get your car ready now to prevent problems before they occur.

Check Your Tires

Have you ever driven with one or more bald tires? It’s okay — we’ve all done it. As the weather changes and road conditions change, it’s not worth the risk. Dead leaves and rain can leave behind a slick path. As temperatures drop, there’s the chance of ice.

According to one study, 35% of American drivers can’t tell if a tire is bald. The primary thing to look at is tread depth. Your tires should never fall below 1/16 of an inch. Stick a penny head-down into your tire’s tread. If Lincoln’s whole head is visible, it’s time to get new tires. Another sign you need a replacement is visible cracks in the sidewall.

Replace Your Wipers

Do you have annoying wiper blades that scrape across your windshield? Get rid of this nuisance and improve your adverse-weather driving. The blades are plastic or silicone, which eventually wears down to bare metal. If you don’t replace your wipers, the metal can permanently scratch the glass.

Replacing your wiper blades is simple. Look up the sizes in your car’s manual. Sometimes the passenger and driver sides will be two different lengths. Most local auto accessory shops offer complimentary installation with the purchase of blades.

Fix Paint Scratches

Does your vehicle’s exterior have scrapes and scratches? While not an issue in summer, these spots can begin to rust and corrode once winter arrives. Before you start the scratch removal process, look for your car’s paint code on the pillar of the driver’s door.

If you have a shallow scratch that doesn’t go past the clear coat, you can polish it out. Otherwise, you’ll need to sand — a lot. You’ll also need to reapply the primer, base coat and clear coat. Your handiwork will result in a pristine paint job and complete weather protection.

Inspect Your Brakes

You regularly drive a three-ton vehicle speeding 70 miles per hour down the highway. Can you imagine what would happen if your brakes failed? Check your stop-ability before fall hits. One sign that you need new brake pads is groaning or squealing noises when you try to stop.

If possible, visually inspect your brake pads through your tire spokes. If the pads are less than a 1/4 inch thick, consider seeing a mechanic. Newer model vehicles have an indicator light that will come on when it’s time to replace your brakes.

Prepare a Storage Spot

Most of us leave our cars outside in all types of weather — rain, snow, hail and more. In fall, debris like dead leaves should be washed off regularly to avoid damage to your paint. In the winter, many cities spread salt on roads to melt ice. Salt clings to the undercarriage of your car and can cause rust.

If possible, prepare an indoor storage area where you can park your car. Insulate the garage door to keep the cold air out and protect your vehicle. If you plan to park for an extended period, invest in a tarp to keep away dust particles.

Fall is fast approaching. Don’t get stuck on the side of the road with only a sweater to keep you warm. Instead, inspect your vehicle now to ensure it’s in tip-top shape.

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