Let There Be Light: Improve Visibility, Safety This Autumn
Autumn can bring unpredictable weather, from light sleet drizzles to heavy downpours and even snow. And as the days become shorter and the nights longer, driving in the dark becomes more frequent.
Take note of the following maintenance recommendations to improve vehicle safety and performance, plus optimal visibility tips for driving at night for all of your autumn excursions.
October maintenance reminders for every vehicle
- Check Your Tires: Inspect your tires for proper tread depth and tire pressure. As temperatures drop, tire pressure tends to decrease, which can affect fuel efficiency and handling. Consider switching to winter tires if you live in an area with cold weather and snow.
- Test the Battery: Test your battery's health and ensure it's holding a strong charge. Cold temperatures can reduce a battery's efficiency, so it's important to have a battery that's in good condition as winter approaches.
- Inspect Brakes: Have your brakes inspected for wear and tear. Proper brake function is essential for safe driving, especially on wet or icy roads.
- Check Heating and Defrosting Systems: Test your vehicle's heating and defrosting systems to ensure they're working effectively. This is crucial for maintaining clear visibility and comfort during colder months.
- Inspect the Exhaust System: Inspect the exhaust system for any leaks or damage. Carbon monoxide leaks can be especially dangerous during cold weather when windows are often closed.
- Call your service advisor. Spotting problems before they become critical repairs helps lower the cost of maintenance and improves driving safety for your family. Schedule a professional inspection with a certified mechanic trained to identify any issues that might need attention.
Tips for optimal visibility when driving:
- Clean the wiper blades: Regularly wipe down your wiper blades with a damp cloth to remove built-up dirt, which can cause streaking. Just like any other part of your vehicle, wiper blades need regular care. Give them a quick wipe with a clean cloth soaked in mild soapy water to remove accumulated dirt, grime, and debris. This not only improves their performance but also prevents these particles from causing premature wear on the rubber.
- Replace worn wiper blades: Wiper blades are your first line of defense against rain, debris, and keeping your windshield clean for optimal visibility. If they leave streaks or smear your windshield, or make unusual noises, it's time for a replacement.
- Lift wiper blades in freezing temperatures: If you're expecting freezing temperatures, lift your wiper blades away from the windshield to prevent them from freezing to the glass.
- Clean your windshield: A clean windshield contributes to the longevity of your wiper blades. Dirt and debris on the glass can create unnecessary friction and wear down the blades faster. Regularly clean your windshield with a cleaner intended for vehicles rather than household cleaners that can cause streaking.
- Inspect for cracks and chips: Examine your windshield for any cracks or chips that could compromise your visibility. Temperature changes can exacerbate these issues, leading to further damage. If you see a small crack, it is best to get it fixed immediately before it expands and spreads.
- Avoid using wipers on dry glass: Running your wiper blades on a dry windshield can cause friction and damage rubber. Always activate the wipers when there is enough moisture or use your washer fluid to wet the windshield before turning on the wipers.
- Replace washer fluid regularly: Using old or dirty washer fluid can leave residues on the windshield, affecting the performance of your wiper blades. Regularly replace your washer fluid to ensure a clean and effective operation of your blades.
- Be gentle in winter conditions: In cold weather, take it easy on your wiper blades. If your windshield is heavily covered in ice or snow, use a scraper to remove the bulk of the accumulation before activating the wipers. This reduces the strain on the blades and the wiper motor.
- Park in shade: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause the rubber on wiper blades to deteriorate faster. Whenever possible, park your vehicle in the shade or use a windshield sunshade to protect not only your wiper blades but also your interior.
- Clean headlights: Keep your headlights clean to maximize their brightness. Dirt and debris can significantly reduce their effectiveness.
- Check alignment: Ensure your headlights are correctly aligned to avoid blinding oncoming drivers and to provide you with optimal visibility.
- Headlight alignment. Potholes encountered during summer can throw off beams. Are they directed at the proper angle? Have both regular and high beams checked out.
- Replace dim or burned out bulbs: As bulbs age, they tend to emit less light. Regularly check and replace any dim or burned-out bulbs to maintain proper illumination.
- Road kit. Make sure you are prepared for nighttime or twilight driving associated with the end of daylight savings. Assemble useful items that might be helpful in case you ever need to pull off to the side of the road or have a breakdown. This is especially helpful for nighttime emergencies and when traveling far from home. Include items such as flares, LED flashlight, triangle warning sign, battery charging cables, gloves, extra batteries and charger for your mobile devices. Double check your vehicle has the right tools for changing a tire–car jack and lug wrench (usually found in the spare tire well).