- Check the Hoses-Visually inspect hoses for cracks, leaks or loose clamps and feel them to check for spots that might be brittle or spongy, that means they need to be replaced. Antifreeze can’t do it’s job if the hoses that carry it through your system are damaged.
- Flush the Cooling System-The additives contained in the engine coolant (antifreeze) that lubricate and protect engine parts from rust and corrosion are depleted over time. It’s recommended to have the cooling system flushed and new coolant added every two to five years depending on the car manufacturer.
- Test the Electrical System-Have your car’s battery tested and make sure that there isn’t any corrosion on the terminals or clamps. Check all the cable connections to make sure they’re tight.
- Adjust the Alternator Belt-The alternator is the source of electrical power when your car is running, it also charges the battery. The alternator belt needs to be adjusted properly. For older model cars this is done manually. Newer cars usually have automatic tensioners. Have the belt checked for wear and cracks which signal it’s time to have it replaced. It’s a good idea to have a trained auto technician do these services.
- Windshield Cleaning Tools-Make sure the windshield fluid reservoir is filled with a non-freezing solution. Check the pump and sprayers to see if they are working properly. If your wiper blades leave spots or streaks, they should be replaced. You might want winter wiper blades that have a rubber boot to prevent ice and snow from building up.
- Check the Tires-Make sure your tires have an adequate tread depth. You should replace worn tires right away. Putting snow tires on for the winter is a very good idea. Check the tire pressure. When the temperature drops the pressures in your tires will too, so check the tire pressure more often in the winter months than you do in the summer.
- Brake Inspection and Flush-If you have any existing brake problems, they will get worse in the winter when your traction is reduced. Have the brakes inspected to make sure they are working properly. Brake fluid absorbs water and then collects in the system, it can cause rust, fluid leaks or damage to parts. To prevent this from happening, most manufacturers recommend that the brake system be flushed every two to three years. Check your owner’s manual for your car’s recommendations.
If you apply this car maintenance checklist, you can keep your car running and hopefully keep a smile on your face all through the winter months.