Below are a few helpful Fall & Winter Safety tips for being prepared for driving in Central Maine.
The 1st thing you should do is read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.
Get engine performance and drive-ability problems such as…
- hard starts
- rough idling
- diminished power, etc.
…corrected at a trustworthy repair shop that employs ASE-certified repair technicians. Cold weather makes existing issues worse.
Replace dirty filters, such as air, PCV, and oil filters. A poorly running engine is less efficient and burns more gasoline.
As the temp drops below freezing, add a bottle of fuel de icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping the gas tank filled also helps protect against moisture from forming.
Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. More often if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of regular short trips. Regular oil and filter changes is one of the most frequently neglected services, yet one that is vital to protect your engine.
The cooling system should be purged and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended. The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses also should be checked routinely by a qualified service tech.
The heater and defroster must be in good working order for passenger warmth and driver visibility.
Replace old windshield wiper blades routinely. If your climate is extreme, get winter blades to combat ice build-up. Stock-up on windshield washer fluid…you’ll be amazed how much you use during the winter months! And don’t forget to ALWAYS carry an ice scraper.
Have your battery checked. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Most motorists can perform routine care but be sure to wear eye protection and protective rubber gloves. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. PLEASE NOTE: Removal of battery cables can cause damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles, so always check your owner’s manual. Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid.
Inspect all lights and bulbs. Replace burned out bulbs; regularly clean road grime from all lenses. To avoid scratching, never use a dry rag. Clouded lenses can be refinished by many shops or by using a Do It Yourself kit found in most auto parts stores.
Exhaust fumes inside your vehicle’s cabin can be fatal. Have the exhaust system examined for leaks and problems while the vehicle is on a lift. The trunk and floorboards should also be inspected for small holes.
Worn tires are hazardous in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month, letting the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t neglect to check your spare, and be certain the jack is in good working order. Under-inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels makes your engine work harder and thus use excessive gasoline.
Have your brakes checked routinely for safety and to prevent costly repairs that can be caused by neglect.
The transmission is often neglected until a major failure. Routine checks and fluid changes at recommended intervals can avoid very costly repairs down the line.
Our last Winter safety tip is to always carry an emergency kit with you: extra gloves, boots and blankets; flares; a small shovel and sand or kitty litter; tire chains; a flashlight and extra batteries; and a cell phone and extra car charger. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.