- Matthew DeBord/Business Insider
Summer’s past, and pretty soon it really will be too late to cut the grass – but Paul Westerberg/Replacements references aside, it won’t be too late to get your car ready to face fall.
True, autumn isn’t quite as challenging as winter, the natural enemy of the automobile. But it’s best to think of fall as a period of preparation, which makes sense anyway: it’s harvest time in much of the northern hemisphere, when people have always stocked up for the cold months to come.
What we’ll be discussing here are few ways to make the transition from golden autumn to frigid winter much easier.
Fix every scratch.
- Matthew DeBord/BI
Winter’s harshness will expose any blemish in your car’s finish to the ravages of water: as cold rain, as sleet, as ice or snow.
The result: rust. Not good.
The best way to do quick repairs of minor scrapes and scratches is to avoid the body shop and do them yourself. A simple repair kit can be purchased for around $30 and will enable you to fix the those imperfections in under an hour.
It won’t look brand new, but it will keep the rust at bay.
Take a look at your tires.
- Matthew DeBord/Business Insider
All-season radials can get you through winter, but they need to be in good shape. Fall is the time to check for tread wear and replace beat-down tires with new ones.
This is also a good time to rotate your tires, so that they wear evenly.
In regions where snow is certain, you may want to start thinking about a set of snow tires. And if you plan to tackle harsh road conditions – say, on a skiing vacation – a set of tire chains could be in order.
Stow some winter emergency gear in your car.
Obviously, if you get stranded in summer, you aren’t going to be shivering in a dead car while you wait for the tow truck.
So take this opportunity to bolster your car’s emergency kit with some cold-weather gear. You’ll want to have a warm coat – a cheap, lightweight down jacket can be a good choice – plus some gloves, a warm hat, a change of socks, and a blanket.
A few bottles of water is also a good idea, as are some non-perishable granola-type bars.
This is also the time to make sure that you have an ice scraper, to deal with the sudden arrival of bad weather.
Change your oil.
- Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr
You don’t need to change your oil every 3,000 miles, but you should change it twice a year.
I think spring and summer are good times, because in spring, you’re heading into more demanding hot weather, and in winter, the cold temperatures are on the way.
Both situations stress your engine and stress your oil, so fresh quarts are an excellent plan.
Gearheads will say change it yourself to save a few bucks, but even though I know how, I usually just take it to a quick-change place or to my mechanic.
Buy new floor mats.
- Screenshot via YouTube
Floor mats have become much more advanced in the past decade. Seriously! You can now get a a custom laser-cut set that will fit perfectly into your car and protect the carpet form pretty much anything Mother Nature can throw at it.
Traditional carpet mats are actually a pretty poor choice for winter because they remain damp and hold filth.
Newer mats, such as those created by WeatherTech (beware: they’re pricey – but you can get cheaper versions), capture water, dirt, mud, etc. You then just dump the crud when you wash your car and clean out the mats.
This preserves the carpet in your car.
Assess your technology.
The pace of technological innovation in cars is speeding up. Even a vehicle that’s just a few years old can be outdated.
For example, all new General Motors vehicles now have 4G LTE wireless connectivity. This means that an entire family can use their GM cars – Chevy, GMC, Buick, or Cadillac – as a rolling wifi hotspot.
This could be a good time to look at your old car and think about a new one – with a tech upgrade.
Plus, the end of the year is the time when dealers start clearing their inventories, as the new model year arrives. Discounts and great financing/leasing offers can abound.
BONUS: Double check the inflation of your spare tire.
- Alex Davies / Business Insider
It happens all the time. Your get your car in good nick for winter, but then at some point you confront a flat, only to discover that your spare is also flat.
So check it now – whether it’s a full-size spare or a temporary spare – and adjust the pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. It will be printed in the tire itself.