Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Your Car Needs Care to Keep Healthy

Just like your regular health checkup at the doctor, your car needs a good checkup to see how healthy it is.

To keep your car running smoothly and getting optimum gas mileage, it needs to be properly maintained all year, but especially as the weather turns colder. Windshield wipers, as well as antifreeze and oil levels need to be checked to make sure they’re adequate. Tires need to be checked for wear and proper inflation, and headlights checked for alignment and adequate luminosity. Batteries, which are forced to work much harder in cold weather, need to be fully charged and able to hold the charge. With long, cold, dark nights ahead for the next few months, your safety and the safety of your passengers will rely on your vehicle being in good condition.

While most of the simple maintenance can be done at home, it’s best to have a certified auto repair facility give your car a complete checkup. With their sophisticated diagnostic equipment, they can discover potential problems before they strand you on the road. A weak battery that is adequate in the warmer months, can suddenly give out when you need it most because of the added strain of turning over a car’s engine in the cold. Suddenly the battery won’t start the car and you’re stuck.

Engine oil is another factor. Not only is the oil level important, but the weight of the oil plays a crucial role, too. 30- or 40-weight oil in the summer is fine, but it’s necessary to have a multi-viscosity oil (10-30 or 10-40 weight) in your car for colder weather. 10-weight viscosity is thinner, which helps keep the oil from turning to sludge in the cold, whereas straight 30-weight oil remains thicker, making it difficult to turn the engine over to start it.

It’s also a very good time to have your belts, hoses and fluids tested. While the belts may not be making noise or the hoses leaking, they may be getting worn to the point that they will break at any time. The harsher temperatures put an added strain on them, and can result in a breakdown.

Tires need to be checked for wear, and replaced if worn out. Wet, slippery or icy roads will test a tire’s ability to ‘hold the road’, and worn-out tire treads are dangerous in these conditions. State law also mandates a minimum tread depth, and anything below that can result in a ticket. Additionally, if you are involved in an accident with illegally worn tires, you can be held liable for the damages, depending on the situation.

Why take chances with your car’s health or yours? It can also affect you and the passengers in the car if your car breaks down or is involved in an accident due to being poorly maintained. It can end up costing you much more than the checkup.