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Fall Into Good Car Care Habits

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Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:34 am, Mon Nov 18, 2013.

(Family Features) - With the summer solstice in our rear-view mirror, the temperatures are getting cooler and another harsh winter may soon be upon us.

Your car may have handled the heat like a pro, but how will it do in the cold?

"Autumn is a great time for automotive maintenance and repair," says Amy Mattinat, car care expert and owner of Auto Craftsmen, an independent auto sales and service facility located in Montpelier, VT. "It gives us time to repair the wear and tear from all the extra miles put on in the summer, and allows us to prepare for those colder days ahead. Following a simple maintenance checklist will save drivers time and money by extending the life of their vehicle and ensuring safer operation."

To ensure that your car keeps running at its peak performance, here are four big tips that Mattinat suggests you follow:

Tires: good pressure, little wear, and rotation

Proper tire pressure helps your car's gas mileage. It's even more important when the temperature drops because tires lose pressure each month. Monthly tire checks assure you that they are filled up to their recommended PSI rating (which can be found on the driver's side door paneling, in the owner's manual, or sometimes on the tires themselves).

A regular check of the tread is the key to avoid driving on excessively worn out tires. Make sure to rotate your tires every 5,000 miles to avoid the risk of having one tire wear more than the others.

Lastly, if the temperature in your neck of the woods consistently rests around freezing during the winter months, now is a good time to start looking around for winter tires.

Oil: switch to synthetic

The lower temperatures increase the stress on your engine. Prevent engine wear by changing your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. Think about switching to synthetic oil, if you're not using it already.

For example, Mobil 1 Extended Performance is a synthetic product specifically designed to help protect your engine in wide-ranging temperatures for up to 15,000 miles. It flows rapidly to critical engine parts during cold start-ups and helps provides outstanding wear protection to keep engines clean and running smoothly.

Cooling system: flush and refill

Always check the cooling system (radiator) for leaks and low levels. It should be flushed and refilled as recommended in the owner's manual. When checking, remember never to remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled.

While coolant may mostly be associated with warmer weather, a vehicle's coolant (or antifreeze) is just as important in the colder months to make sure the vehicle can withstand the temperatures. Mattinat usually recommends mixing together a 50/50 ratio of anti-freeze and distilled water.

Full engine tune-up: systems and fluid levels

Now is the perfect time to have your yearly recommended basic tune-up. The colder temperatures will only make any existing problems worse. A basic tune-up helps correct engine problems such as diminished power and/or stalling. It also ensures fluid levels (for brakes, transmission, windshield washer, etc.) are topped off or replaced as necessary.

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