With the beautiful fall colors we enjoy in the Mid-Atlantic often comes quite a bit of rain. Most people know that driving in the rain can be difficult and requires a little more attention to things like hydroplaning. However, it’s important to check up on a few interior and exterior parts of your car when the seasons change and have an auto repair expert make sure it’s in optimal condition.
It’s crucial that your brakes are always in the best condition possible, regardless of season. But in the colder, wetter months, it’s more important than ever for your safety and the safety of those around you to make sure you have full control over stopping your car, especially in the event of a hydroplane. Listen for any unusual noises (especially grinding or squealing sounds) associated with coming to a stop, as this could be a sign of failing brake pads.
You might be able to tell whether you need new brake pads by looking through your tire spokes. You should see your brake pad compressed against your rotor. If it’s less than ¼ thick, you probably need a replacement. Some vehicles have an indicator light on the dashboard that will signal when the brake pads are worn down. If you haven’t had your brake pads or rotors replaced in a while, now is a good time to do so to ensure your car won’t have trouble with wet, snowy or icy roads.
Nobody wants to get stuck in the cold weather without heat in their car. Beyond it being uncomfortable, it’s important that your defroster works in order to clear a fogged-up windshield, which can make it difficult to see. This is common as the weather grows colder, so its important to make sure your car’s heat is working normally. If your car heater is doing something unusual, like blowing cold air or not operating at all, it might be due to:
- Lack of coolant in the engine
- Heater core problems
- Water leaks
- Thermostat dysfunction
- Broken or clogged heating controls
If you are not comfortable checking these things yourself, have a professional auto mechanic take a look and perform a heater inspection for you.
This may not seem like an important concern, but all-weather floor mats are a good investment to protect your car’s interior against snow, dirt, water, leaves, and grime, which are especially prevalent during the fall. They are more easily cleaned than your car’s flooring and can be used in any season. Leaves can do more than just make your floor dirty- they can actually get into your air filter and clog drains, which can cause serious damage. It’s inevitable during this time of year that you and your family are going to be tracking leaves and dirt in with your shoes, so preparing for this by outfitting your car with durable mats is a good way to protect your interior.
Windshield wipers and fluid
Replacing your cars fluids is a good habit to get into at the start of any season. Fluids to check include:
All of these fluids are integral to the healthy functioning of your car. For example, power steering fluid keeps your vehicle operating, while brake fluid prevents corrosion and coolant regulates your engine’s temperature. During the fall, it’s especially important to make sure to replenish your windshield wiper fluid. If you haven’t replaced your windshield wipers in a while, a great time to do so is just before the rainy fall season. Windshield wipers need to be replaced every 6 months to one year, as old wipers make less contact with the windshield and therefore aren’t as efficient at clearing it for safe driving. If your wipers are smearing moisture on the windshield and making it harder to see, they probably need to be replaced.
It’s important to keep your tires in good shape, and they’ve probably being working overtime during the hot summer season. They may have become degraded from the heat and friction with the road over the last few months, and probably need to be placed if they haven’t been in a long time. Now is a good time to check the tread, inflation, and overall condition of your tires. You’ll also want to have a mechanic rotate them and make sure they have the proper amount of air. This is extremely important during the fall, as cold weather can cause tires to lose air quickly. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow or sleet, consult with an auto repair specialist as to whether you should invest in snow tires.
You’ll also want to make sure your tires are in optimal shape due to the increased risk of hydroplaning that comes with the rainy fall season. Hydroplaning occurs when a car’s tires lose all traction due to water on the road. Rain can mix with oil residue on the road, causing the surface of the road to become slippery and tires to lift off and become difficult to control. Even sliding on slippery piles of leaves that accumulate on the road can be dangerous. Tread depth, pressure, and pattern affect the possibility of hydroplaning, so make sure an auto expert inspects your tires before the start of the season.
Headlights, taillights, flashers, and brake lights are some of the most important parts of your car when it comes to safety. This is especially true during the fall, when visibility can be limited due to rain or snow and the sun sets earlier and earlier. Make sure all of your vehicle’s exterior lights are in good working order. If your headlights appear foggy or hazy, it’s a good idea to have them polished or buffed to make sure they are able to shine as bright as possible. It’s important that other drivers can see you from a distance, especially if it’s dark or stormy.
If you’re concerned about leaves or snow building up on your car’s exterior and damaging the paint, it’s a good idea to wax your car to protect it. When fall leaves (which often contain pollen, acid, and sap) stay on your car for an extended period of time, they can damage the paint, so try to avoid parking under trees, and use a garage or carport if possible. Washing your car regularly to clear any residue is a good habit to get into during the fall, and waxing the exterior will help to preserve the paint against weather conditions.
If you’re in the Baltimore area, contact Hollenshade’s at 410-421-7526 or fill out a quick form to consult an auto repair expert and make sure your car is performing safely in time for the fall weather.