November 6, 2015

How to Ready Your Oklahoma Car for Fall and Winter

For better or worse summer is over, and that means it’s time to start getting ready for fall and winter. Along with pulling out your sweaters and washing your long socks, you should also make sure another important possession is prepped for the end of the year: your used car. There are a few simple tasks you should perform to get your car ready for fall in Oklahoma to ensure it carries you through the season in comfort and style.

Ready Car for Fall

Check Your Tires (Including Your Spare!)

Summer heat and dry weather can be bad for your whole car, but your tires often get the worst of the abuse. Once the weather cools down, make sure you check your tires for wear, bald spots, cracks, and other problems. Remember that your tire tread should be at least 2/32 of an inch deep to provide adequate traction in rain or other bad weather. To check your tread depth, take a standard penny and put it edge-on into your tread, with Abraham Lincoln upside-down. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread when the edge touches the bottom, you’re good!

Replace Your Wiper Blades

Nobody wants to deal with snow and ice on their windshield during the winter. Having fresh, strong wiper blades can help you scrape off the mess and keep your field of view clear. If you aren’t sure what size of blades you need, check your owner’s manual or look in one of the guides at an auto parts store. Most of them have comprehensive listings of car models by year, so you can easily determine what size of wiper blades you need.

Check Your Antifreeze

When the weather gets cold, antifreeze is the only thing standing between you getting to work on time versus dealing with a locked-up or damaged engine. Fortunately, antifreeze is easy to add, and even easier to check. Simply open your hood and locate the coolant tank, which is usually near the washer fluid reservoir. There are generally two lines on the coolant tank, labeled “hot fill” and “cold fill” or some variation of that. If your engine is cold, the antifreeze level should be at or near the cold fill level. If the engine is warm (such as after driving for a few miles) then it should be at the hot fill level. If it’s much below these lines when you check, simply add some more to the reservoir.

Check Your Battery and Connections

A dead battery in the middle of winter can make any morning a bad one. Most experts recommend replacing your car battery after about four years of use, but because every battery is different, yours could last far longer (or not nearly as long). This HowStuffWorks article gives an excellent overview of the complexities behind car batteries as well as advice on when to change them. In general though, you want to look for decreased battery performance (such as your battery going flat when you’re not driving) and corrosion around the leads or mounts. Any of these signs could mean it’s a good idea to replace your battery before it’s too late.

Replace Old Belts and Hoses

Just like your tires, Oklahoma’s hot summers can dry out belts and hoses all too fast. If your timing belt, coolant hoses, or other crucial engine parts fail, you’ll find your car on the back of a tow truck before you know what’s going on. It pays to check these parts occasionally and replace them if you notice any wear. Look for cracks, flaking, and other signs of age, especially around clamps and connections or near bends in the line.

Replace Your Air Filter

Ideally you should change your engine air filter every time you get your oil changed, but most people don’t. Fall is a great time to do this simple maintenance task. You’ll want to check your owner’s manual to see the exact process for replacing your air filter. Alternately, you can take your car to any service station and have the technicians replace your air filter with a new one for a low fee.

Stock Your Car Properly

Winter is coming, and that means cold temperatures and bad weather. If you get in a car accident, have a dead battery, or simply get stuck in some snow or ice, you could easily get hypothermia, frostbite, or worse. It pays to keep some simple supplies in your car to deal with problems, including:

  • A warm blanket or two
  • A windshield ice scraper
  • Some bottled water
  • Jumper cables
  • A first aid kit
  • A heavy-duty tow rope or tow chain

With the unpredictability of Oklahoma’s weather, it pays to be prepared for any situation. Keep these things in your car and you could be very thankful!

For more tips and advice about used car buying, selling, and maintenance in Oklahoma City, contact The KEY today! We’re Oklahoma City’s top used car dealership. No matter what your credit score or financial history, we can get you into a high-quality used car today! Call us at (405) 526-7010 visit our Oklahoma City dealership, or follow us on Facebook to learn more.