Itemizer-Observer report

POLK COUNTY — As the seasons change from record high summer temperatures toward the colder environs of the winter months, the transition can be tough on vehicles. Now is the time to prepare your car for the colder months ahead. Automotive experts have compiled some simple maintenance tips to help your vehicle weather any upcoming storms.

Car Battery

Inspect your car’s battery. Make sure the cables and terminals are snug and re-tighten any loose connections to maintain good contact. For dirty or corroding connections, disconnect and clean them with a wire brush or cleaning tool. Be mindful that some vehicles require a security code be re-entered for the radio or navigation system when you disconnect the battery. Batteries with sealed, maintenance-free, non-removable caps leave little to do. If your battery has removable caps, check the water level periodically and refill with distilled water as needed.

Consider investing in a trickle charger to keep a battery charged if the vehicle is going to be parked or stored for an extended period of time. Because batteries lose strength over time, it’s important to be proactive in replacing your battery. Make sure to choose the right size for your vehicle — double check the owner’s manual or in-store guide.

Headlights

Headlights can become cloudy or hazy as vehicles age, especially on cars routinely parked outdoors. Clouded lenses can compromise night vision and reduce the effectiveness of headlights by up to 80%. Headlight restoration kits can restore headlights to showroom quality. Check your local auto store for availability.

Tires

Maximize your tires’ mileage with proper maintenance and responsible driving. Perform monthly tread inspections to stay on top of potential need for replacements. The standard is tires with less than 1/8-inch of tread remaining need to be replaced. An old-school measurement is marking distance from a quarter’s rim to George Washington’s hairline. While down there checking the tread, make sure to keep the tires at their proper inflation. The general rule of thumb is for every temperature drop of 10 degrees, your tire’s PSI (pounds per square inch) goes down one pound per square inch. Lastly, consider all-season tires which are cheaper than buying and switching a separate set for winter and summer seasons. While all-season tires deliver good, well-rounded performance, they don’t excel in any one area. However, while winter tires offer outstanding snow traction, many offer only fair braking on clear roads. Check with your local tire store for what works best for you and your vehicle.

Wash and Wax

Clean off all that summer grime during fall, from dead bugs to tree sap. After a good wash, follow by a wax to keep the paint protected and looking new. Experts recommend waxing every two to three months because many waxes’ protection wears off in as little as five weeks.

Wipers

It’s time to clean or replace wipers when they start leaving streaks on the windshield. Typically, wipers need to be changed every 6 to 12 months. To prevent early deterioration, clean the blades with a paper towel and glass cleaner. This can help renew and extend the life of your wiper blades.

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