Atlanta is certainly not known for its harsh winters, but when it comes to car maintenance, even the mildest winter can throw in a monkey wrench if your car doesn't have a proper tune-up. Keep your car running smoothly throughout the colder months with these car maintenance tips.
- Change your oil: If it's time to change your oil, do so. In Atlanta, 10W-30 rated oil is just fine. It's rated for anything but Arctic or Alpine weather.
- Test your battery: Cold weather can sap a battery's remaining life. Batteries sold in Southern states are rated for southern weather; thus, they are more susceptible to cold. If you don't need a new battery, be sure to clean the terminals to keep your battery operating efficiently. Cleaning the terminals is especially important in the winter since it's tougher for the battery to generate power in the cold. Any additional strain can make a battery nonoperational.
- Check your brakes: Be sure brakes are in proper working order. You should inspect and, if necessary, replace front disc brake pads, front brake calipers, rear drum brakes and brake hardware.
- Check for wear and tear: Inspect your car's ignition, belts, wiring and hoses for any wear and tear that can become a problem with rapid temperature change or freezing.
- Change your spark plugs: Spark plug gaps wear out over time. The proper gap size maximizes engine efficiency.
- Replace your timing belt: If your car has more than 60,000 miles, consider replacing your timing belt to prevent damage to your exhaust valves.
- Check your rear defroster function: If any of the defroster strips are defective, you can have them repaired.
- Check your antifreeze: Before the temperature drops below freezing, be sure your coolant is topped off and the antifreeze you're using is glycol-based (glycol has the highest freezing and boiling points).
- Check wiper fluids: Check fluid and reservoir levels for windshield wiper fluid, and make sure you have fluid that's rated to remain liquid in spite of freezing temperatures.
- Replace your wipers: Consider replacing your windshield wipers in anticipation of wintry weather like sleet and snow flurries.
- Keep gas in your tank: Always be aware of your gas tank. In winter months, you'll want to keep your gas tank at least one quarter full. If your gas levels are low enough, gas lines can freeze.
- Inspect your tire tread: Rainy weather and freezing temperatures can mean rough driving conditions. Be sure your tires have sufficient tread to prevent hydroplaning. You should also regularly check the air pressure and inspect for any sidewall wear.
You should also consider packing an emergency road kit with blankets, a flashlight, jumper cables and flares in case you become stranded during a storm. Consult an Atlanta automotive professional for more car maintenance tips to prepare your car for winter.