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Top 5 Fall Car Care Tips You Can Do Yourself

Ahhh, it’s finally Fall here in the Phoenix area. While we’re not quite ready to pull out our sweaters and start making hot cocoa, we are starting to enjoy the decrease in temperatures. Summer in Arizona, in addition to searing temperatures, brings monsoons that leave behind dust, dirt, and the occasional rain puddle. While we’re picking up the debris left behind from the last storm, we can’t forget the toll the weather takes on our cars. With fall here, now is a good time to help your vehicle transition into the cooler temperatures before winter arrives.

Are you working on your fall To Do list? Amid picking up a Halloween costume, decorating the house with pumpkins and hay bales, and getting the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte, add car care to your list. Follow our best car maintenance tips for fall before you head out on your fall break road trip:

1 – Check Tires

Check the tread depth on your tires and look for signs of wear including bulges or bald spots. Keep an eye out for any kind of damage on the tread or sidewalls such as cuts, punctures, bumps, or cracks. If you see anything suspicious, have a tire service professional take a closer look. It’s also a good idea to check the tire pressure and add air if necessary. Tire pressures often drop by 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees in temperature changes, so test often. To test your tire pressure:

  1. Remove the valve stem cap.
  2. Press the gauge onto the valve stem, using firm pressure to stifle hissing sounds.
  3. Remove gauge and observe the number and compare it to the recommended pressure for your vehicle’s tires.

Tip: Always check your tires after they’ve been sitting for at least three hours. As the tire moves, it creates heat and heat can make the tire pressure expand, giving you a false reading. Many tire manufacturers recommend tires be removed ten years after they were manufactured. You can determine the age of your tires by locating the stamp on the sidewall. At the end of the DOT stamp is a 4-digit number or date code. The first two numbers are the week of manufacture and the last two are the year. For example, 2618 would mean the tire was produced the 26th week of 2018.

2 – Change Your Air Filter

Dust, pollen, and other contaminants accumulate in the filter and with all the dust storms we have in Phoenix, by the end of the summer both your engine and cabin air filters are most likely full of dirt and debris. A dirty air filter becomes clogged and reduces air flow, which can affect fuel economy, engine performance, air conditioning function, air circulation in the cabin, and create musty odors. While removing and replacing your cabin air filter can be done as a DIY project, removal is slightly difficult. You’ll need to remove the glove box as well as some clips and pins to access the filter. Some may be more difficult to remove than others, take care as the housing can be easily broken when pulled out.

Tip: Not all vehicles have both cabin and engine air filters, such as vehicles produced before 2000. Refer to your owner’s manual to determine which filters your vehicle is equipped with.

3 – Replace Wiper Blades

person checking their windshield wipersWith drier conditions and heat, you’ll be lucky to get six months out of your vehicle’s wiper blades. If they haven’t been replaced lately, now’s the time to do so. Wipers that are in good shape should glide nicely against the windshield. Wiper blades in poor condition can leave streaks or jump across the window. Wiper blades are fairly inexpensive, easy to install, and make being able to see during adverse weather conditions much easier. Now is also a good time to top off your washer fluid. You probably went through a fair amount of fluid when trying to wipe away dirt spots and rain drops brought by the monsoons.

4 – Check Your Battery

Perform a visual inspection of your battery to ensure it’s clean and free of corrosion and that the connections are nice and tight. Winter weather can be rough on the car’s battery, so it’s a good idea to check the battery and other parts of the charging system before the temperatures begin dropping. While testing your battery’s charge can only be done with specialized equipment at a repair center, you can maintain the battery yourself. Remove any corrosion that may be on supports or cables, clean all surfaces, and tighten connections. For removable battery caps, check the battery’s fluid level often. Take caution to avoid contact with battery acid and corrosive sediments.

Tip: Removal of battery cables may damage or cause a loss of data or codes on newer vehicles. Always refer to your user manual for guidance.

5 – Give Your Car the Once Over

No matter the time of year, it’s always a good idea to check your vehicle’s fluids including engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid (if applicable), as well as checking the condition of belts and hoses. Rubber components, like your belts and hoses, don’t do well in the heat and may begin showing signs of wear with cracks, divots, or separation. It’s also a good idea to test your heat and defroster functions. While ensuring your vehicle’s heat is in optimal condition is important for your comfort, it’s also essential for your safety. You’ll need to be able to use your defroster to clear up a foggy windshield in colder months. Now is also a good time to check the function of your headlights, taillights, high beams, and turn signals. Because the sun rises later in the mornings and it’s getting darker earlier, you’re likely to be on the road before sunrise and after sundown; it’s important for your lights to be in good working condition so that you can see and be seen.

With our fall car care tips, you’ll be able to drive with more confidence this season. Plus, regular maintenance is one of the best ways to give your car or truck a longer life and keep you safe on the road. For help with maintenance on your vehicle, or guidance on how to extend the life of your vehicle, visit a Sun Devil Auto near you. Our friendly, knowledgeable Service Advisors are happy to help and offer their best advice in keeping your car on the road. We’re always available to answer your questions from preparing your vehicle for each changing season to how your engine works, just give us a call or stop by your nearest Sun Devil Auto today!