Car maintenance tips for winter and holidays road trips
Thanksgiving is a couple of weeks away and now is the time to get your car checked and ready for Winter driving
With Winter comes shorter days, night time driving, rainy season and if you live or are planning to drive to the mountain, snow
At Stroyer Brothers Autobody and Painting we care about your safety. Collision repair is our business and should you get into an accident, we’d love to fix your car and bring it back to factory specification but we’d rather you have safe and happy holidays
To help you stay safe we put together a checklist to get your car ready for the holiday season:
Check your windshield wipers. I know, it does not rain much in Southern California but the sun has been baking your windshield and windshield wipers all Summer, now is the time to change them. If you are driving a hatchback, SUV or crossover, do not forget the rear wiper.
Windshield and windows:
Clean your windshield inside and out.
No matter what you do, the inside of the windshield collects grime. Don’t ask me why, it just does and it’s most visible at night and at dusk, impairing your visibility, make sure you clean it regularly, especially before a road trip
Don’t forget to also clean your side and rear windows
If your windshield has chips or small cracks, it would be a good idea to get them fixed, insurance companies usually waive the deductible unless a windshield replacement is required. Fixing the chips is always a good idea, in cold weather chips can expand and lead to a costly whole windshield replacement
Check it, fill it up. I like to add a little dish detergent like Dawn in the water.
If you are going to drive in the mountains or the desert where temperatures freeze, fill it with windshield washer fluid formulated to not freeze, you will find that at your local auto parts store. It’s also a good idea to get a windshield scrapper, not too common in Southern California. You can also use an old credit card if your windshield is only frosted.
Do not try to melt the ice on the windshield with warm water, it’s the best way to crack it
Most cars since the 1990s come equipped with polycarbonate (plastic) headlights, they don’t break as easy as glass headlights and can be molded in fancy shapes but they have a downside, they oxidize. The oxidization may look foggy, cloudy, yellow and in some cases you can physically feel the roughness on the headlight lens.
As a result, they diffuse and dim the light limiting your visibility
You can find products in retail stores that will temporarily clear the lens, to a degree but the lens will oxidize again and you will have to redo the process a couple of months later. The other downside of retail products is that they only work on surface oxidation. If your lens has been cloudy for some time, the result will be somewhat disappointing but don’t take my word for it, do try retail products and see by yourself.
If you are looking for a long term solution that will really restore your optics, we do offer a professional service and we back it with a one year warranty
Tires give you traction and help you stay on the road, they are one of the most important part of your car. In Southern California, we are somewhat lucky, we rarely get rain or snow, except during the wet season, as a result even light drizzle can cause havoc on the roads and bring a lot of cars into our facility
Most of these accident can be avoided by keeping reasonable distance between cars and making sure our tires are in good conditions.
With winter come heavier rain and snow. Worn out tires increase your chances of hydroplaning, skidding on snow, ice or more simply stop in time to avoid an accident.
Check your tires. Most tire shops will check your tire thread for free or you can use a tread depth gauge, or if you don’t happen to have one of those laying around, try the “penny test.” Insert a penny into the tire tread grooves with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head you should get new tires.
If you have enough thread left, it’s always a good idea to rotate them.
Finally, check your tire pressure, many tire shops will do it for free, you will find the correct tire pressure on a sticker usually on the door frame on the driver side. Don’t forget to check the spare.
Winter is also a good time to test your lights (headlights, brake lights, backup light, parking lights) and make sure they all work. Bulbs are easy to change and a whole lot cheaper than a ticket or a collision repair
Now let’s open the hoof (or bonnet as the Brits like to call it)
- Check your brake fluid, it would also be a good idea to check your brake pads, the last thing you want is find out they are worn out in the middle of your trip and you end up riding the rotors or worse you end up in an accident.
- Check your oil, going on a long road trip it might be a good idea to do an oil change
- Check your coolant, when was the last time you flushed the cooling system, look at the recommended service in your owner’s manual.
- Fill up your windshield washer tank (we talked about it earlier)
- Check your transmission fluid level
- Check the belts
- Check your battery charge and clean the connections
All done? Now your car is ready for a safe and enjoyable road trip. Don’t forget to check the weather ahead and the traffic and don’t forget to get some rest before hitting the road. (see some of the apps we like here)
Well, there is one more thing. The last thing you want is to be caught in an emergency with your pants down, so to speak, have an emergency kit in your trunk. These are some of the things you should have:
- First aid kit
- Hat and gloves
- Tire-changing equipment
- Spare tire
- Jumper cables
- Ice scraper
- Washer Fluid
- Sand or cat litter (something to gain tire traction in slippery conditions.)
- A quart or two of motor oil
Feel free to download our accident print out sheet and remember, should you get into an accident you decide who you will trust to fix your car and we hope you will chose Stroyer Brothers Autobody and Painting.
Have a great Thanksgiving, drive safe and have fun.