As Fall quickly turns to winter it’s the perfect time to get your car ready for the hard months ahead.
Cars are the notorious budget-buster and if you were frugal and paid cash for a used car then you will know how quickly very large car repairs can deplete even the most robust car repairs envelope.
The best way to deal with this (besides saving money to use for repairs) is to take care of your car end be not op of small maintenance items so that your car doesn’t break down in middle of nowhere or have very large and costly repairs.
This is definitely a place where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case, that means that regular oil changes will save you a new engine down the road.
Before you take a long road trip or before winter comes along is the perfect time to make sure your car is in working order.
Fall Car Care Tips
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Check that ALL the lights are working and that you know how to turn them on and off. Especially when the days are getting shorter and the weather makes things darker (ever been stuck in a sudden rainstorm?) you want to know your lights are working properly. Headlights, fog lights, daytime running lights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, license plate lights (if applicable- I got stopped for this once while driving out of state), reverse lights, and interior lights should all be checked and made sure that they are turning on when they are supposed to.
Windshield Wiper Blades
Have you ever driven in a severe rainstorm without windshield wiper blades? I have and it is not recommended. I got in my car on a sunny day and while I was driving the sky opened and it started pouring rain. But my windshield wipers wouldn’t turn on. I didn’t know they weren’t working because I hadn’t used them in a while and I hadn’t thought to check them. Well, that was a harrowing journey that ended ok but the moral of the story is to always make sure your windshield wiper blades are working!
The battery is one of the most important parts of your car. Batteries are more likely to get drained quicker in the cold so it’s a good idea to make sure your battery is in good shape before we get to the cold months. You don’t want to be started with a car that won’t turn on! Have a professional inspect your battery to make sure it’s not corroded, leaking, or loose.
Tires need to be replaced every so often and since they are the most crucial part of your car you will want to make sure that the tired tread and the tire pressure are still in a safe zone. You can check your tire pressure yourself and give a visual check to your tires to make sure that there are no bald patches or unusual wear patterns. If the tires look worn down, then consider getting them replaced sooner rather than later. Wet and snowy conditions make have a good tire tread even more crucial.
It’s best to get your brakes inspected by a mechanic to check the thickness of your brake pad, to top off your brake fluid, and make sure they are in good condition. Brakes are pretty important so you don’t want to have any surprises!
Heater and Windshield Defroster
If you haven’t used these in a few months now is the perfect time to turn them on to make sure that they work! Just turn on both your heater and defroster before the weather gets cold and make urea it’s working properly. If not, then hop on over to get them fixed.
First Aid or Emergency Kit
Make sure that you have a fully stocked first aid and an emergency kit in your car. What you will have in your kit may be dependent on your locale. Are you more concerned with frostbite or flooding? Earthquake or avalanche? Basic kits can be easily purchased online or in a store. Make sure you have a few water bottles and a $20 bill somewhere in the car. Having all the things you need for an emergency for yourself and your car (jumper cables etc.) can give you peace of mind even if you never end up using it!
Cars are one of those things that need regular checkups, especially if you want to drive it for a very long time (which I recommend!). Keep the maintenance up and you will save yourself some pretty big bills down the road. The longer you keep your car the better!
I recommend keeping a cash envelope where you budget for regular car expenses and maintenance so you don’t have to dig into your emergency fund. This doesn’t need to be a monthly budgeting item but it should be rather frequent. Having the money set aside will help you keep on track with regular car maintenance.