Fall Car Care Tips

Conducting routine maintenance on your vehicle is necessary to maintain optimal performance and prevent costly repairs. As colder weather approaches, and with it the potential for treacherous road conditions, giving certain areas of your car special attention can also protect your safety.

Fall Car Care - Family Features Image
Family Prepared for Colder Weather

“Getting your vehicle ready for winter while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventive maintenance that helps ensure safety and reliability when severe winter weather strikes,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

The following tips will help you learn how to care for the systems and features most likely to affect your safety as winter approaches.


The brake system is a car’s most important safety system. A faulty brake system may impede your ability to safely slow your vehicle in inclement driving conditions or avoid an accident. Brakes sustain normal wear and eventually need to be replaced for both performance and safety reasons. Ignoring routine maintenance and letting brake pads wear too thin can lead to costly rotor and drum replacement, in addition to compromising your ability to execute a sudden stop safely.

  • Have your complete brake system thoroughly inspected annually and replace equipment as needed.
  • If your car is pulling to the left or right, or if you hear odd noises when you apply the brakes, you should have your brakes inspected. Other warning signs include an illuminated brake warning light, brake grabbing, low pedal feel, vibration, hard pedal feel and squealing.
  • Don’t overlook the parking brake, which also may require adjustment or replacement parts.

Wheels and Tires

When roads become wet or icy, the right wheels and tires can help ensure you have the traction you need to maintain control. Maintaining tire balance and wheel alignment reduces tire wear and improves handling and fuel economy. Tire replacement is necessary if the tread depth is below the minimum legal requirement, or if the sidewalls are severely cracked or punctured. In addition, normal wear and road conditions can take their toll on your car’s steering and suspension system and disrupt the alignment, which in turn reduces optimum handling.

  • Use the “penny test” to check your tread; if you see Lincoln’s head above the tread, you are ready for new tires.
  • Have your car’s alignment checked at least annually or at the first sign of improper handling or uneven wear.
  • Check inflation pressure at least once a month (including the spare) and once per week in the winter.
  • Rotate and balance tires every 6,000 miles to avoid accelerated wear on shock absorbers and struts.


Your battery should be securely mounted, with connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. If the battery is three years old or more, it should be tested and replaced if necessary.


Headlights play a major role in safe driving; the chances for accidents increase if you can’t see or be seen. The lighting system provides nighttime visibility, signals and alerts other drivers, and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior.

  • If there is any doubt about whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on.
  • Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights, making it difficult to be seen by others.
  • Make sure your headlights are properly aimed. If they aren’t, headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area; otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
  • Replace dimming, rapidly blinking or non-functioning lights immediately, but check first to ensure a loose or faulty fuse isn’t the source of the problem.
  • We recently replaced our headlines with LED headlights and notice a huge difference.
Woman Changing Her Wiper Blades
Woman Changing Her Wiper Blades

Windshield Wipers

The wiper system keeps excessive water, snow and dirt from building up on the windshield, maintaining clear visibility. Many factors can accelerate the replacement of wipers, including operating conditions, frequency of use, material and type of wipers and weather.

  • In general, replace blades every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering.
  • Be aware that some vehicles have two washer fluid reservoirs. Check levels monthly and use washer fluid only; do not use water.

Maintenance Checklist

Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, the Car Care Council recommends these basic maintenance procedures to keep your vehicle operating at its best:

  1. Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  2. Check the hoses and belts for signs of damage or wear.
  3. Check the battery and replace if necessary.
  4. Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  5. Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise.
  6. Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.
  7. Inspect the steering and suspension system annually, including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
  8. Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  9. Check the wipers and lighting, including both interior and exterior lighting, and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.

Learn about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair, and order a free copy of the council’s Car Care Guide, at www.carcare.org.

Car Care Council

First published November 4, 2015. Last updated June 6, 2019.
Article compliments of Family Features. Photos courtesy of Getty Images.

About the Author

Author: Steve Patterson

A Christian Blogger that enjoys blogging about the Bible, Theology, God, Jesus Christ, Christian Music, Family, Cats, Odd Holidays, sewing and much more. I have been blogging since 2004, however, I have been blogging on Courageous Christian Father since 2012. I enjoy listening to Christian Music. I am married with 1 daughter, 2 step-sons and a step daughter.

22 thoughts on “Fall Car Care Tips

  1. That’s true that having good tires can make all the difference during the winter. I knew about the “penny test” to check my tread, but I haven’t had my wheels aligned in a long time. It’s been over a year, so I should get that done soon. I want my tires to last as long as possible after all. http://www.allansalignment.ca/wheel_alignment.html

  2. These car care tips will come in handy for our upcoming road trip. I’ll have to go through these tips before we head out, especially when it comes to the brakes since I think the rear brake shoes need replacing. The tip for keeping a maintenance list is something I hadn’t thought of before, thanks for the help!

  3. I think my car is due for a tire alignment and balancing! I’m pretty sure it’s been over 6,000 miles since I last balanced them. It’s not something I think about too often, but, like you said, maintaining tire balance and wheel alignment helps reduce tire wear and improves fuel economy. Thanks for all the tips.

    1. It all adds up and it all helps just the same way with our cars it does with their spiritual life we got to make sure we stay tuned up and in the word thank you for your comment

  4. You are right, the brakes are the most important safety we have in a car. It’s important to remember to have them serviced when needed, for sure. However, I had never thought about adjusting the parking brake, that’s great advice, thanks!

  5. After having two car crashes due to my brakes being bad I think it’s important to keep up on maintenance. Like you said, it’s the most important safety system in the car. I think we all need to know the signs of our car breaks going out. Maybe it’d be a good idea to know how to replace them too.

  6. Hi buddy;
    wow..Great post!!Extremely Useful Article regarding maintenance of cars in order to keep one’s vehicle operating at its best. The highlight is the maintenance checklist that mostly covers all procedures to keep your car in good shape.
    Cortney G

  7. It scares me to drive in winter without properly preparing my vehicle first. Thanks for these fall car care tips! It’s good to know the signs of a brake system that needs repairs. I think I will definitely replace my tires as well so I’ll be sure to have good traction on the wet and icy roads.

      1. I live in the UK Steve, and when I visited Australia in August it was colder than over here in the UK.. I was freezing; especially at night time (that was in Queensland) so I wouldn’t be shocked if it snows in Australia during their Winter because it has the climate to match sometimes!

        I enjoyed your post too.

  8. I loved your suggestion to check the exhaust system for leaks. The environment will thank you if you make sure your exhaust is performing as it should. I plan to not only check it in the fall but also in the spring so I know I don’t miss anything.

  9. Awesome car care advice. Cars are such huge investments it’s important to protect them and take care of them. Checking the fluids before a trip is something I always do and I always end up catching one that is low. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I remember last year, we forgot to prepare and double check the car that we were about to use on our youth camp trip we ended up stuck on the way to the campsite luckily one of the campers parents own a towing company. by God’s grace everything went find and we arrived at the camp site just in the nick of time. He really is never late but always on time

    1. God’s timing is just right! I am glad everyone was okay and that is a great story to hear about God looking after you all and how He saw you through. I hope the youth enjoyed the camping trip. God bless and thank you for the comment.

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