Are you ready for it? As we begin to creep into September and October, everyone is looking forward to Fall: mainly Pumpkin Spice Lattes or jumping around in leaves. But the coming cold temperatures can also take their toll on your vehicle - tires start to lose their grip and you’ll see more cracks show up on your windshield.
How do you avoid being surprised when the temperature drops and you feel your car slip or hear it rattle? Here are some ways to prepare for fall driving:
Top off your fluids
To have your car purring throughout the Fall and Winter months, you’ll need to check your car fluid levels:
- Windshield washer fluid: Maintains visibility (How To video)
- Transmission fluid: Keeps the transmission cool and prevents wear and tear (How To video)
- Coolant fluid: Regulates the engine temperature (How To video)
- Brake fluids: Amplifies hydraulic braking force and prevents corrosion (How To video)
- Power steering fluid: Assists you in turning (How To video)
Engine Oil: This might be a good time to change your oil. Your car manual or mechanic can recommend the right time between oil changes, but your driving habits, brand of vehicle, and type of oil can tell you differently. It’s usually a good plan to switch out the oil every 5-6,000 kilometres.
Check your tires
Just like your washing machine or granite countertops, your tires need some TLC. They normally lose about 1 psi (pounds per square inch) every month or so. Check your air pressure before hitting the road because cold air drains air out of tires. Also, check the tread and rotate your tires so they can wear evenly.
Ask your go-to mechanic or look at your instruction manual to find out the right cold temperature pressure. *Note: lower pressure can actually help with traction on wet or snowy surfaces.
Get an emergency kit
If you don’t already have one in your car, these kits can save you in a tight spot. Being stranded is not fun, especially as the cold sets in and the heat doesn’t work - stock up on these Emergency Kit Must-Haves:
- Ice scraper
- Boots and blankets
- First aid kit
- A small shovel
- Jumper cables
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- A cell phone and an extra car charger
- “High-energy” snacks in your glove box (Clif Bars anyone?)
Change your wiper blades
Your wipers get a real workout during the Fall and Winter, and the Summer can degrade the rubber. You can find the right sizing for driver and passenger sides at Canadian Tire or any other store that sells auto parts. Oh and don’t forget the rear window wiper!
These signs should let you know if your wipers need replacing:
Check the brakes
Fall and Winter can be rough on your brakes. Brakes cannot be overlooked for safe driving and should be replaced every 13,000 kilometres. Listen for unusual sounds, a pull to one side, or fluttering. If the brake lining is the same thickness as the steel backing plate, the pads need replacing.
If you’re handy with car maintenance and are wondering about which brake lubricant to use, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90hPEDF9PAQ
Check the lights
Take a stroll around your car to see if all the lights (headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and flashers) aren’t broken or blown. Each of these lets other drivers see you on a snowy or foggy night.
Check the battery
Your battery helps your car start and keeps your lights on, so you better pull out a stethoscope to check its health before Fall is upon us. You can actually get this done for free at some auto shops. Is it corroded or more than four years old? If it is, you should get it replaced.
Paint problems can mean big problems down the road. In other words, corrosion and rust can sink into the areas of chipped paint on your car and eat away at the metal. Grab some touch-up paint from your local auto body shop and start painting in the lines. If there is rust already, ask your mechanic who they’d recommend to buff it out so it can be repainted properly.
Preparing for Fall driving doesn’t have to be a chore when these small fixes can make a big dent on safer driving. Plus, if you have a young driver, they’ll need all the help they can get to stay safe during the unforgiving colder months.
If they need more incentive to drive well, Carrot rewards new drivers with cash using a special Scorecard. They can even use some of this cash to buy you that Pumpkin Spice Latte or pay to prep your car for the Fall. :)
*Learn more about maintaining your vehicle with this Car Maintenance Guide by Consumer Reports. It even lets you find fair prices for your car repairs.
HOW DO I GET CARROT?
Carrot is as easy to use as ABC:
- Enroll with InsureMy (plus get a 10% discount)
- Connect your vehicle to the Drive With Carrot App
- Buckle up and start getting cash rewards for driving smart!
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