Winter is just around the corner, and the weather around the country is starting to cool off. As temperatures drop, the road conditions change along with it. Vehicle maintenance before late fall and winter is important to ensure you are able to remain safe and have a comfortable driving experience. 

Road conditions are different in the late fall and winter

There are unique challenges to driving in the fall and winter months. Notably, the weather, amount of daylight and flow of traffic change. If your car is not properly maintained before fall and winter, you may find it challenging or uncomfortable to drive during the winter season. 

Weather

The most notable change is the weather. As the temperature cools down, it affects our car and the road conditions. Once temperatures approach freezing, your car battery is at greater risk o dying. You also have an increased risk of suffering a flat tire during the winter season, especially if they are not serviced ahead of time. If your heating does not work properly, then this could be disastrous as well. Winter weather also increases the likelihood of ice on the roads. If the roads are iced and your tires are not properly serviced, it increases the risk of an accident. Of course, snow is also an obstacle as well, especially if your tires are not in good condition. 

Daylight

Another factor that affects the safety and convenience of driving during the late fall and early winter months is daylight. During the winter months, the sun comes down earlier than it does in the late spring and summer. In many places, the sun goes down before 6:00 P.M., which for many means they are driving home from work when it is dark, in addition to after-work activities (driving the kids to practice, attending social events, etc.). This means it is important to have headlights that work well so that you can properly see the road and other drivers. 

Traffic

Since road conditions are more challenging during the winter, the flow of traffic is typically slower as drivers are more careful. While this is good for overall safety, it does require you to use your brakes more, especially if you drive through congested areas regularly. Also, cold or frozen roads may also make braking more of a challenge, in addition to needing to brake more often, so having reliable brakes that are properly serviced before the winter is important due to slower traffic and colder weather. 

Vehicle maintenance checks to do before fall and winter

So how do you ensure your car is prepared for driving during the winter? Here are some useful vehicle maintenance tips to ensure your car is in optimal condition for the late fall and winter. 

Service all of your car lights

As discussed, the sun goes down earlier during the winter and being able to see the road conditions when the roads are colder and potentially iced is crucial. This means you should service all of your car lights, including:

  • Headlights
  • Taillights
  • Brake lights
  • Signal lights
  • Hazard lights
  • Fog lights
  • Day time lights

You can check your car lights on your own for oxidation, burnt-out bulbs and damage, or you can have your mechanic inspect them for you during a maintenance visit. 

Check and service your tires

Reliable and properly serviced tires are essential during the late fall and early winter months. There are three elements of your tires that you should check — the tread, pressure and balance. The tread depth should be at an ideal level before winter, and they need to be replaced if they are not. You should also check your tire pressure to avoid a flat tire or accident, along with having your tires balanced and rotated. 

Check your car battery

An older battery may start when the weather is warm but have a more challenging time getting going during cold weather Therefore, checking the condition of your battery in the fall is highly encouraged. A dead car battery is a tough situation in any regard, and the problem is made worse if it is cold and dark. 

Have your brakes serviced

Needless to say, being able to stop is crucial to optimal car safety, especially when the roads are cold or iced and it is dark. Therefore, you should have your car brakes and rotors inspected during the fall, and you may need to have them changed if they are not in ideal condition for the winter season. This is particularly important if your brakes do not work well or make a noise while stopping. 

Check your car’s fluid level

Following your fluid change schedule is important all year, but it is especially important before the cold part of the year. During your fall vehicle maintenance, check the following fluids:

  • Oil
  • Transmission
  • Brake
  • Coolant
  • Wiper

You can change and add these fluids yourself or take your car to a local mechanic for quick servicing.

Ensure your car has proper heating

All too many car owners assume their heating will work fine after they have not used it for months, only to find out that it does not work when they need it the most. Do not let this be you, and check your heating and have it serviced if necessary before the cold weather arrives.

Check and service the windshield wipers

During your fall vehicle maintenance, you should go ahead and change your windshield wipers. Ideally, you should change your windshield wipers once every six months. This ensures you remain as safe as possible when it is raining and snowing and allows you to defrost your windshield faster if there is ice. 

Put together an emergency supplies kit

You should also put together an emergency supplies kit so that you can stay safe if you were to breakdown or get into an accident. In the emergency supplies kit, you should include:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Motor oil
  • Tire change 
  • Blanket
  • Medical kit

By following these vehicle maintenance servicing tips, you can ensure optimal safety during the cold winter months. In addition, be sure to detail your car and wash the exterior to keep it looking great throughout the winter.

Aaron Westbury
Aaron is a content writer with a passion for cars. He enjoys learning new things and loves to share what he learns with others. Aaron also has a Bachelor's in English and years of experience as a writer, and he constantly seeks to improve and make his writing more informative and helpful for readers. Although a writer by day, Aaron enjoys his free time by getting outdoors and staying active anyway he can.

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    2 Comments

    1. I learned all this back when I lived in Jersey. Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way.

    2. Living in Florida now I’m not as concerned as I was when I lived farther up north. I had to be prepared for the worst in the winter. The maintenance on your car during the winter is so important!

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