Fall is here, which means shorter days and cooler temperatures. We always recommend bringing your vehicle into one of our Service Centers to ensure it’s running in top shape this time of year, but to help prepare your car for the demands of the coming driving season, we have five, simple do-it yourself car maintenance tips for a smoother and safer drive around Pittsburgh.
- Generally, wiper blades are used more frequently in the fall and winter. They take a lot more abuse from road grime and windshield-washer solvent, so it’s best to have your wiper blades replaced annually every fall. Fortunately, replacing wiper blades as part of car maintenance is very easy and requires no tools. They cost from $10 to $20. Note: some cars will require same-sized blades for the driver and passenger sides, while others will require a longer blade for the driver-side wiper.
- Check your spare tire to ensure that it is properly inflated. The typical space-saver spare tire found in some cars must be inflated to the inflation pressure listed on the side of the tire. A tire pressure gauge costs $7 to $20. Tire pressure drops one PSI, or pound per square inch, for every 10-degree drop in temperature, according to AAA, so check your tires on a weekly basis. The proper inflation pressure will generally be listed in your vehicle’s owner manual and/or noted on a sticker located on the driver’s doorjamb.
- In colder seasons, windshield-washer fluid needs to be replaced with a solvent that is suited for use in cold weather. The washer fluid costs $2 to $4 per gallon, depending on the brand and whether it has antifreeze mixed in. Checking the brake-fluid reservoir is also a good idea. If the level is low, top it off with the appropriate type of brake fluid ($3.50 to $17 per container, depending on the type).
- At a minimum, engine air filters ($11.50 to $53 per filter, depending on brand) should be replaced twice per year as part of car maintenance. So, if you haven’t done so already, replacing your car’s air filter is a good idea. When an air filter reaches the point where it causes enough of a pressure drop to restrict airflow, the car’s fuel economy, performance and emissions begin to deteriorate, getting progressively worse until the dirty filter is replaced.
- Many electrical issues and ignition problems stem from loose or corroded battery connections. If you notice corrosion on the posts or cable connectors, use an appropriate brush ($4 per brush.) This is a very inexpensive, yet handy tool that you can get at any auto parts store. And clean both (posts) completely, and then reconnect everything securely. As part of regular car maintenance, and for safety, make sure all of the car’s lights are working; it’s important for you to see, as well as be seen, during autumn’s longer and darker nights. Headlight bulbs range in price from $14 to $27 for a single bulb to $25 to $50 for a dual pack.