While we still may be reeling from those long stretches of 100 degree days, it’s time to think about the toll winter can take on your car and the last time your car had a maintenance service. With that in mind: Happy Fall Car Care Month!
With drought one year, and heavy rainfall the next, it’s hard to predict the fall and winter weather in Sacramento. A few things are certain though: there will be less daylight, it will be cold, and it will rain, all which mean you may be driving more and you’ll want your car safe and ready for winter weather.
Like the reasons described in our April 2017 blog, maintenance services are important in the winter as well. Performing regular maintenance services on your vehicle will:
- Give you peace of mind and let you know what is still in good working order. We text you photos of what is good, what may need work down the road, and what should be fixed. Even if you don’t want to do major repairs with us, we want you to have the peace of mind knowing what is in good shape and what needs work. Your safety is our priority.
- Prevent costly and lengthy repair work. Time, weather, how much you drive, and how you drive cause wear and tear on parts. It’s unavoidable. However, oftentimes, if caught early, you can avoid a big repair. For example, transmission fluid doesn’t get low like oil (unless there is a leak), but it gets cycled over and over through the transmission, picking up gunk and loose metal fragments along the way, which can wreak havoc on your transmission. Flushing old transmission fluid out and replacing it with fresh fluid prevents you from needing a costly transmission rebuild down the road.
In colder weather, there are few things that need special attention:
- Check the coolant - even when it’s cold! The term “coolant” can be misleading. If you look at the bottle, you’ll notice it is actually: coolant/antifreeze. Coolant doesn’t simply control your engine from running hot, it regulates engine temperature during colder weather as well. Depending how long the same coolant has been circulating in your car, or if you have a small leak, old coolant needs to be flushed out and replaced. A coolant flush should be done every three years/30,000 miles to prevent rust building up inside engine components. It also helps the components of your cooling system last longer.
- Check tire inflation. Air contracts when it gets colder, which may make your tires look flatter. Tire inflation levels are measured in pounds per square inch (psi). Air pressure can decrease up to 10 psi a month just through every day driving and may potentially drop 1 psi for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperature drop. Improper tire inflation can hurt gas mileage and cause incorrect wear and tear on your tires, thus shortening the life of your tires. At Paul’s we check and adjust your tire pressure for free!
- Windshield wipers, of course. A big tell-tale sign of winter weather in Sacramento is dusting off those windshield wipers after they have gotten little to no use over the summer. The life of windshield wipers is six months to one year. This seemingly simple item is also one of the most important safety items when it is raining, so make sure they are working properly and not coming apart. Another handy item we can apply to your windshield is Aquapel. This product is a long-lasting rain repellant that causes rain to bead up and roll right off your windshield.
The specific maintenance items needed to get your car ready for winter is based on several factors. We will be happy to go over with you the history of your vehicle and what you would need. The Car Care Guide is a useful resource to learn more.
I hope this helped you think about the importance of maintaining your car and your wintertime car care needs. Happy Car Care Month!
Winter Primer for your Vehicle
It is chilly out there! Rain is falling in the Valley; snow up in the Sierras. At Paul’s, we see a spike in certain jobs when the temperature drops, namely dead batteries and concerns about vehicle safety on the wet roads. Here are some items I recommend checking out or finally getting replaced during the winter:
Batteries: Cold weather is hard on your car battery. A car battery can lose 30 to 50 percent of its power when the temperature drops below the freezing point and more than half its power when the temperature drops below zero.
When it is cold, engines are harder to turn over because the oil inside them has thickened, which demands more current from a battery. Also, the chemical reactions that generate electricity are slower at lower temperatures.
There are two easy things you can do to check if your battery may be on its way out:
- Visually inspect your battery for corrosion, cracks, or other damage. These batteries need to be more thoroughly checked and/or replaced immediately.
- Test your battery if it is three years old or older. Our techs can measure the amps and voltage, giving you the peace of mind knowing that your battery is still good, should be replaced soon, or if you need a new one.
At Paul’s, we proudly use AC Delco batteries, which are known for their excellent performance, long life, and a 30-month free replacement warranty.
Struts: Symptoms of worn struts include bottoming out, excessive bouncing, rocking back and forth, drifting or nose-diving while braking, swaying, and cupping wear on the tires.
This may be an inconvenience or make for an uncomfortable ride during the dry months, but with the wet, slick roads of winter, these issues become a safety concern. They can cause your car to spin out, not come to a hard brake as quickly, and reduce the traction of your tires.
Tires: Even if you do not plan on visiting the snow, wet and flooded roads can be a safety concern if your tires’ tread is worn. A worn tire has very little traction, meaning it does not grip the road as well when you brake. This can be especially dangerous on a wet road. As mentioned above, bad struts cause tires to be worn unevenly, causing your tires to become worn out more quickly, costing you more.
Tire inflation is another important consideration. Air contracts when it gets colder, which may make your tires look flatter. Tire inflation levels are measured in pounds per square inch (psi). Air pressure can potentially drop 1 psi for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperature drop. Improper tire inflation can hurt gas mileage and cause incorrect wear and tear on your tires, thus shortening the life of your tires. In addition, if your car has a tire pressure monitoring system, it can affect the anti-lock braking system on your vehicle.
At Paul’s we check and adjust your tire pressure for free!
I hope this blog taught you something new about your car. We are here for you to make you feel safer and more comfortable in your vehicle over the winter! And Happy Holidays!