The days are getting shorter and summer road trips are winding down, which can only mean one thing – it’s time to prepare your vehicle for autumn driving. A long, hot summer can wreak havoc on the interior and exterior of your vehicle, so fall is the ideal time to get your car back in shape. Kit Johnson, NAPA’s 2007 Technician of the Year from East Helena, MT, offers important maintenance and cleaning tips to help prepare your vehicle for the demands of autumn driving.
"My most important advice to car owners is to read the owners manual and follow the recommended service checkups – especially following the summer driving months," said Johnson.
Tires absorb the brunt of summer damage due to road trips and exposure to excessive heat. With the dog days of summer behind us, it’s a good idea to check the condition of all tires, including the spare. Uneven wear, vibrating or pulling to one side generally indicates a problem with the tires or the suspension system. According to Johnson, it’s a good idea to have a trusted technician properly align your tires every two years. When having your vehicle serviced, remember to rotate your existing tires or replace them with new ones. Rotating extends the life of the tires and assures better braking and handling of the vehicle.
Johnson also recommends having your service technician check the following:
- Inspect the brakes – common signs of deteriorating brake pads can include excessive grinding, squealing and screeching.
- Evaluate engine performance problems such as difficult start-ups, high idling and periodic stalling. Once these problems are corrected, your vehicle will get better gas mileage, and minor problems are less likely to develop into expensive repairs.
- Make sure all fluids are topped off, including transmission, brake, power steering, radiator coolant and windshield washer fluids.
- Change the oil and oil filter based on the owner’s manual recommendations. Even though drivers often neglect this service, oil changes can greatly increase the life of your vehicle.
- Clean and vacuum your vehicle on a regular basis. Clutter, dust and dirt have the tendency to collect in and on cars – especially when traveling during the summer. Cleaning and vacuuming will keep it looking new. Washing off dirt and mud that accumulated on your vehicle will help maintain the exterior. Applying wax will preserve the car’s shine and protect the surface.
"Following these basic maintenance and cleaning recommendations will not only save drivers time and money, but will also enhance the vehicle’s overall performance," said Johnson.
Consumers can learn more about an appropriate preventive maintenance program for all their vehicles by contacting their local NAPA AutoCare Center or by calling 800-LET-NAPA.