When college campuses across the nation are being bombarded by leggy short-shorts-wearing girls in Uggs, you know summer is officially over. That’s true even here in Los Angeles, where we just got the season’s first rain, and where temperatures have temporarily dropped into the low sixties (we’ll be back to torrential sunshine by the weekend, thankfully).
Yes, pity us and our annual storm watch, where millimeters of barely-felt drizzle blanket our Rain’X'd windshields and create havoc on our freeways. Of course, for many Americans, who live in regions with four actual seasons, winter is no laughing matter, and that’s why the fine folks at Dodge, and others, have put together some nifty vehicular winterization tips.
“Now is the time to prepare your vehicle for the upcoming winter-driving season,” said Jim Sassorossi, Head of Sales and Product Development at Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Preventative maintenance helps vehicles perform at optimum levels in a variety of conditions.”
- Brakes: Check them. Your pads could be worn, your rotors cracked or warped, and your calipers weak. If you’ve never checked, take your vehicle to the dealership. This is a routine and often complimentary check.
- Tires: If yours are smooth, get new ones. Or better ones. If yours are fine, make sure they’re properly inflated, or that tread wear is even, not favoring any one area. If you live in an area that gets truly heavy snow, consider investing in a set of snow tires.
- Battery: Open the hood and look at it. If you see weird and chalky growth formations, clean the connections. If your ride has a hard time starting, consider replacing your battery since, as Chrysler notes: “Summer heat does the most damage to battery life and is why they often fail in the winter.”
- Wiper Blades: You can’t drive well if you can’t see the road. If yours don’t work well, replacement is an easy and affordable change you can believe in.
- Shocks and Struts: Your butt is thankful for these suspension parts. So, if you dread potholes, have unusually bouncy wheels, or just want to go slow and low (that is the tempo), consider replacing your worn out struts. Your butt will thank you.
- Engine Oil: Viscosity matters. Fortunately, you don’t need to know what that means. Just stay current on oil changes and hope the technician changing your oil isn’t condescending when you ask him for oil that is winter-weather suitable.
- Other Fluids: Top off your fluids. Or have someone else do it for you. This includes coolant, brakes, transmission, power steering, and yes, windshield washer fluid, too.
- Belts and Hoses: What’s that squeal? Don’t know—? Then get it checked out. Worn, cracked, or frayed belts and hoses can lead to more expensive problems, like engine failure.
- Air Filter: These are like surgical masks, filtering out harmful stuff. Just like how you wouldn’t want to catch avian flu, your engine doesn’t want to breathe dirt, moisture and roadside debris. If your filter is dirty or clogged, get a new one. They’re another one of those easy and affordable changes you can believe in.
- Headlamps and Tail lamps: You want to see and be seen, right? Start your car. Place transmission in park, or neutral, and pull the e-brake. Turn on lights. Walk around vehicle to ensure they work. Do the same for brake lights, enlisting the help of a friend with thumbs or flailing arms if needed.