Winter Reminders for Every Driver: The Right Maintenance Steps (Part IV)

Note to Reader: The following tips apply to “pre-winter” and ‘middle of the season’ winter maintenance. Now, just because winter has started, it doesn’t mean you should neglect your duties as a car owner. I was actually looking for a better word apart from “duties” to describe what you need to do to help keep your car in tiptop condition during these cold months, but I couldn’t find any. Yes, you have a duty to keep your car in great shape. While vehicle maintenance may not seem like a pressing duty these days, neglecting simple things like auto tune ups can eventually lead to costly reparations, or worse, expensive auto-part or entire-vehicle replacement.

Tip #8: Conduct a Tune-Up!

Now if you’re a responsible vehicle owner, then you already know the importance of regular tune ups. But in case you missed my previous posts on this topic (multi-posts at that!) then I’ll give you two reasons why you should conduct regular auto tune ups: (1) It helps keep your car performing at its best by making sure your engine and ignition components are in great shape, and (2) it helps you catch small auto issues before they become full-blown, migraine-inducing, automotive problems—possibly saving you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

While a couple of auto breakdowns during the warmer seasons may seem like “petty issues” to some of us, it’s a completely different story when you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter with a busted car. When you feel

every muscle in your body starting to freeze when you step out of your car, then you’ll know you’re in deep trouble. Avoid turning into a human popsicle by making sure your car is in great shape before, during, and even after the winter season.

Because broken fan belts, hoses-gone-bad, frozen water pumps, arcing ignition wires, and malfunctioning distributor rotors and caps, are the usual culprits when it comes to auto breakdowns, it’s better to make sure each one of these auto units are in good condition before embarking in any long winter trips.

I know that the word “tune-up” can encompass virtually anything and everything that has to do with repairs and replacements, that’s why we’re going to be tackling some of the most important steps you shouldn’t forget when conducting a tune-up. If you decide to do a little “extra” work on your car, then that’s good news for both you and your car! If you don’t have the time to go through every single component in your vehicle, then I suggest checking at least the following:

Misc. Tip

Its widely known that winter time brings with it more auto expenses. Auto accident rates skyrocket with snow and icy conditions. Proper maintenance will certainly help you and your auto be better prepared for these conditions. In the mean time you might want to check out some cheap auto insurance savings tips as there is a very good chance you will have even minor accidents this winter.

Step #1: Check your tire pressure levels. If you don’t have the tools to check your tire pressure levels, then you can ask your local mechanic to do it for you—sometimes even for free! But since it’s Christmas, you might want to leave a nice tip for your mechanic.

If your vehicle has built-in tire pressure monitors, then you won’t have to worry about frequent tire checks, since these monitors should alert you when there are drastic changes in your car’s tire pressure levels. But if you notice one or all of your tires going soft gradually, then it’s best to still conduct a manual check once in a while.

Spark Plug Wires

Step #2: Pop open your hood and have a good look at your spark plug wires! Now, I would advise you to conduct this check at night, or with minimum light to be able to see arcing properly. If you see tiny lights or sparks coming from your wires, then you have some arcing going on—and you’re going to have to replace your ignition wires as soon as possible.

When replacing your ignition wires, that’s when you’re going to need more light. Remove each wire one at a time to make sure you can install your new wires in their correct order. If you have cracked or dried-up wires, it’s better to replace them now rather than later.

Oil Change

Oil Change

Step #3: Have a look at your engine oil to see if you need an oil change. Actually, you’re supposed to be doing this at least once a month, so whether you like it or not, you really can’t skip this step. Take note of your last oil change to gauge how often you need to repeat this process every year.

Step #4: Locate your battery and inspect it and its posts. If you’re having difficulties starting your car this season, then your ignition and your battery will have to be checked thoroughly for damage. Now when it comes to your battery, you can prevent damage from taking place by regularly cleaning your battery posts and removing grime, muck, and debris, which could affect your automobile’s performance.

Step #5: Check those brakes! If it takes a while for your brakes to bite during the rainy season, then you should know that it’s even more difficult to come to a full stop properly when there’s ice on the streets. Make sure your brakes are up to par, by inspecting your brake lines, brake shoes, and other braking components for signs of damage. If the damage on any of these components is extensive, then I suggest prompt replacing or repair.

Step #7: Replace your distributor cap and rotor. That goes without saying. When conducting an ignition tune up, you’ll need to check your cap and rotor for signs of damage—and most of the time; you’ll need to do some replacing as well. Also remember to clean out the area surrounding your distributor as well, to help prevent corrosion from starting and spreading.

Step #8: Lastly, look for leaks and plug ‘em up! Looking under your vehicle after parking for a few hours is an easy way to locate leaks. Find out where the dripping fluid is coming from and do the necessary plugging or replacing needed to eliminate leaks from your ride.


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