Fall is a traditional time to make sure you vehicle is ready for the winter months ahead. We may have some mild winters here in the valley but the conditions are still completely different from the summer. You should always have a complete inspection performed on your car during service, but fall is one of the most important times. Your car has just been through extreme heat and storms. Here are some key areas to focus on.
Tires: Tires should be checked for wear, dry cracking and of course air pressure. Always turn your front tires out when performing the inspection. The outside edge may look just fine but it may be a whole different story when you check the inside edge. Poor alignment will contribute to the tires not wearing evenly across the tread. Closely inspect the side wall of the tire for dry cracking. Tires over 5 years old should be replaced or they may separate. Tire pressure should be checked every few months. Fall is an important time because of the temperature change. Air pressure goes down 1psi for every 6 degrees of air temperature. If your car tire pressure was set when the temperature was 110o, that same tire will lose 7psi when the temp is 70o. Tire monitoring systems are great but not fool proof. Sometimes the system is only looking for a large difference between tire pressures and not just low tire pressure. If your tires have been rotated, your system may show a low tire on the right front but the actual low tire may be in a different position. Always check all 4 tires when your low tire light comes on.
Battery: Batteries take a beating during the summer and there is a high rate of failure once the weather starts to cool again. It is best to test a battery after your vehicle has been parked for at least an hour. A battery will give a false reading if it was recently driven due to the charge voltage from the alternator. A dead battery is never convenient so make sure you change it at the first sign of trouble. The cable ends should also be checked often for signs of corrosion. If corrosion goes unattended it can damage the cable.
Belts and hoses: Have your belts and hoses inspected to ensure their reliability. Engine belts don’t always show visual cracks when they are worn. A depth gauge needs to be used to measure the ribs for proper gripping. When checking hoses, make sure all the hoses are checked. There are radiator, heater, and in most cases other hoses that can be found all around the engine compartment. It only takes one small hose failure that causes an overheating situation and can lead to lead to expenses repairs.
Vehicle health: A complete inspection of the entire vehicle should be performed. This includes fluids, braking system, suspension, filters and steering. Any component on the car that is made of rubber is susceptible to dry rotting with our extreme heat and dryness. Being proactive when a problem is first discovered can alleviate a costly breakdown in the future. Just like changing oil, the other fluids become contaminated and lose their protective and lubricating ability. Following recommended service intervals for fluid changes will help prevent failure of those systems.