With autumn’s shorter days, cooler temperatures and inclement weather drawing closer, now is a good time to get your car ready for the demands of the coming driving season.
Although some seasonal car maintenance will require the assistance of Laguna Motor Werks, here are five, simple do-it-yourself car maintenance projects to make your car better prepared for fall.
1. Change Your Wiper Blades
Wiper blades should be replaced annually every fall. You generally use your wipers more frequently in the fall and winter. They’ll also be taking a lot more abuse from road grime and windshield-washer solvent, so it’s best to have a fresh set then.
2. Check Your Spare Tire
Autumn is also a good time to check your spare tire to ensure that it is properly inflated. The typical space-saver spare tire found in most cars must be inflated to the inflation pressure listed on the side of the tire. A tire pressure gauge costs $7 to $20.
Tire pressure drops one PSI, or pound per square inch, for every 10-degree drop in temperature, so check your tires on a weekly basis. The proper inflation pressure will generally be listed in your vehicle’s owner manual and/or noted on a sticker located on the driver’s doorjamb.
3. Replace Windshield Washer Fluid
In fall, windshield-washer fluid needs to be replaced with a solvent that is suited for use in cold weather. The washer fluid costs $2 to $4 per gallon, depending on the brand and whether it has antifreeze mixed in.
Autumn is also a good time to check your level of antifreeze ($10 to $16 per gallon) in the coolant recovery reservoir. In this car maintenance move, if you find that you are below the required minimum stamped onto the side of that opaque container, add the appropriate quantity of properly diluted fluid to that reservoir and not to the radiator. Make sure that you use the correct fluid because green and orange antifreeze/coolant cannot be mixed.
Checking the braker-fluid reservoir is also a good idea. If the level is low, top it off with the appropriate type of brake fluid ($3.50 to $17 per container, depending on the type).
4. Replace Engine Air Filter
At a minimum, engine air filters ($11.50 to $53 per filter, depending on brand) should be replaced twice per year as part of car maintenance. When an air filter reaches the point where it causes enough of a pressure drop to restrict airflow, the car’s fuel economy, performance and emissions begin to deteriorate, getting progressively worse until the dirty filter is replaced.
5. Check For Electrical Issues
Many electrical issues and ignition problems stem from loose or corroded battery connections. If you notice corrosion on the posts or cable connectors, use an appropriate brush ($4 per brush.) This is a very inexpensive, yet handy tool that you can get at any auto parts store. And clean both (posts) completely, and then reconnect everything snuggly and securely.
As part of regular cars maintenance, and for safety, make sure all of the car’s lights are working; it’s important for you to see, as well as be seen, during autumn’s longer and darker nights. Replacement bulbs will typically cost a dollar or two, with the exception of headlight bulbs, of course. They’re considerably more expensive, but you can replace them all quite easily on your own without tools and save yourself a hefty labor charge in the process.
Headlight bulbs range in price from $14 to $27 for a single bulb to $25 to $50 for a dual pack.