Well…it’s the end of summer, the kids will be headed back to school soon, the days will start getting shorter and it’ll be time to start thinking about cold weather before you know it. At Sea Tac Tire & Auto Tech in Puyallup, WA, we’d like to go over some tips for your vehicle that can make the transition out of summer go a little easier, and maybe even help you avoid expensive auto repair:
- Check your wipers – in the Puyallup, WA rainy season and colder months, proper visibility is essential. Even the best wipers can degrade considerably over the course of one year, from cracking, chunking and dry rot, and stiff or beat-up wipers can’t do a good job of clearing your windshield. And of course, make sure there’s plenty of good-quality washer fluid in the reservoir.
- Trouble bag – you probably should have one year-round, but it’s extra important in the colder months. A trouble bag could include a rudimentary tool kit or multi-tool, duct tape, motor oil and coolant, protein-rich snacks, a blanket, gloves, a 12v-powered air compressor and a flashlight (consider a shake-light or dynamo light that needs no batteries). A charged-up backup power pack for your phone might not be a bad idea, either.
- Belts and Hoses – cold weather makes rubber pieces less elastic, which can be pretty hard on belts and hoses. Inspect the serpentine belt carefully for frayed edges, glazing or cracks; get a look at the hoses and look for leaks (don’t forget to inspect the hose clamps too).
- Coolant – coolant does more than keep your car’s engine from overheating, it prevents the fluid in the radiator from freezing in cold weather. The proper ratio of water to antifreeze is 50/50, and parts stores now sell premixed water/antifreeze coolant. Remember that the consequences of frozen coolant are blown freeze plugs, blown gaskets and some pretty expensive (and needless) auto repair!
- Motor oil – the rules have changed on this somewhat with newer oil formulations, but for years it was advisable to use a lower-viscosity motor oil in colder months. Oil does thicken in cold weather, meaning it can take longer for the oil pump to start circulating oil to critical upper-end engine assemblies. Next time you come in for maintenance or auto repair, you might want to ask one of our techs at Sea Tac Tire & Auto Tech in Puyallup, WA about proper motor oil grades for colder weather.
- Battery – the last thing you want is to go out to your car on a colder day, turn the key and hear the engine turn over slowly, followed by the disheartening click that means “it’s not going to start at all.” Batteries are generally warrantied for 3 to 5 years of service life, but cold weather, deep discharges and a weak charging system can often take months or even years off of that number. Get a look at the condition of the battery cables (especially keep an eye out for fluffy white or greenish deposits of corrosion at the clamps) and remember to have an electrical system checkup done at your next auto repair appointment.
Some people love summer and hate to see it go…others love feeling the first snap in the air that means fall is on its way. Regardless of which camp you fall into, come on by Sea Tac Tire & Auto Tech in Puyallup, WA and let us take care of your end-of-summer auto needs so you’re in good shape heading into the colder months!