October: Fall Car Care Month And How We Can Help

Thu, Oct 5, 2017 | Posted by:

Car Care, Tech

The mercury will be dropping soon and, depending on where you live, difficult driving conditions are on the horizon. October is Fall Car Care Month making this is a great time to create a punch list of seasonal maintenance that will provide peace of mind, sustain safety, and maximize your car’s efficiency as the weather turns.

We have compiled the following tips, tricks, and products to help you prepare your vehicle for the open road or long-term storage during the dark, damp, and demanding months of winter.

Tires & Traction

Check your tire pressure. Colder air is denser and can lead to lower pressures. In fact, you can expect one psi of tire pressure drop for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit drop in ambient air temperature. Be sure to check all four tires and the spare and do so periodically over the winter as the temperature continues to drop. Correct tire pressure levels can be gleaned on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb or found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Tire wear should also be evaluated. Remember a tire that grips sufficiently in the summer can still have problems in the rain… aquaplaning is not fun. According to the American Automobile Association any tire with less than 3/32-inches of tread should be replaced. Also look for uneven wear across the tire… inconsistency here can signal alignment, wheel balance, or suspension problems that must be addressed to better grip slippery roads and prevent further tire damage and possibly premature tire failure. This is also a good time to rotate your tires.

If you live in an area that experiences a lot of snow, snow tires may be worth considering. These tires have a blockier tread pattern that’s more adept at motoring through the slick and slippery stuff. Some snow tires even have metal studs to really dig in. It’s common to mount snow tires on cheap rims and swap them onto your vehicle during the snowiest months of winter.

How We Can Help

Analog Tire Pressue Gauge. This is a popular gauge among customers and Griot’s Garage associates alike. I have been using my Digital Tire Inflation Gun as a pressure checker and found the locking chuck far too clumsy. I recently got one of these analog pressure gauges and haven’t looked back. I love how the angled chuck and generous 17 inches of lead hose make it easy to quickly check pressures no matter the position of the valve stem. Since the unit holds the pressure reading until released via a bleeder valve I can easily take notes on the pressure at my leisure and ensure all four tires are balanced.

Digital Tire Inflation Gun. The aforementioned locking chuck comes in super handy when filling tires with air and the digital pressure readout makes it easy to attain precise pressures and balance the pressure between all the tires. The gauge reads in 1/2-pound increments in psi, BAR, KPA or cm2 and its display is backlit for low-light situations.

Flat-Free Tire Ramps. If your fall car care plans involve putting your vehicle up for the winter, or longer, these ramps are worth looking into. The contoured shape of the ramps distribute weight evenly eliminating tire flat spotting that can occur during long-term storage. They’re made from heavy-duty polypropylene so they’ll last for years and years and each ramp has a five-ton weight capacity so bring on that Duesenberg. I won a set of these at our holiday party a few years back and use them on my ’55 T-Bird.

Here are two inventive storage options if you swap to snow tires in the depth of winter or have a set of race tires for weekend shenanigans at the local track.

Heavy-Duty Wall Mounted Tire Storage Rack. If floor space is at a premium in your garage, our this sturdy storage rack is your go-to player. The rack will support up to 400 pounds and its three chrome-plated tubes are adjustable to accommodate tire sizes up to 36 inches in outside diameter. The back bar prevents tires from touching the wall and the rack’s inner dimensions expand to 52 inches wide to accept wider tires.

Rolling Tire Cart. Here’s a great way to go if you lack wall space. It keeps your rolling stock portable and can be slid behind a workbench or against a wall when not in use. The cart measures 30 inches in diameter, weighs 17 pounds, can handle 1,000 pounds, includes a tie-down strap for stability and safety, and rolls on five commercial-grade casters, two of which are locking and two of which are fixed for easy straight-line maneuvering.

Battery & Electrics

Cold winter temperatures conspire to rob power from your battery. Cold starting demands can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for compromised batteries that are operating on the brink of failure. So evaluating the condition of your battery before the mercury drops is smart. The added burden put on the electrical system also makes the flow of power important so this is a good time to examine battery cables and terminals. Make sure the ground cable is secure and remove cables and clean away any corrosion in the terminals that could impede making a proper connection.

How We Can Help

Battery & System Tester. Winter prep is one of the reasons we developed the Battery & System Tester. The tester works on all 12-volt Conventional, Maintenance Free, AGM, Gel Cell, Marine, and Deep Cycle batteries. It tests the battery to determine its charge level, if it needs charging, and whether or not it’s capable of holding a charge using colored LEDs to display the results. The starting system is tested by adjusting the unit’s test mode and starting the engine then as the motor idles charging system performance is assessed. Three component systems tested in one sequence, that’s doing the job right.

2000A 12V Lithium-Ion Jump Starter. Pack some peace of mind in your trunk. If you have one of those troublesome weak batteries, leave your lights on, or come across someone with a dead battery, this is the jump starter to have. Frankly, calling this a product a jump starter really sells it short as it’s also part rescue team and part pit crew. The unit is small, the main body is smaller than a sheet of printer paper folded in half (8 1/2″ L x 3 7/8″ W), but packs a wallop with 2,000 amps at the ready and the capacity to fire up 40 vehicles on a single charge. The jump starter has a multi-mode LED flashlight and can also recharge USB devices, like smartphones, tablets, and digital cameras and power 12-volt items like tire inflators, power inverters, and more. Talk about versatile. Ever been stranded on the side of the road and left wondering what will happen first, the tow truck showing up or the cell phone dying? I have. And I can tell you turning up the anxiety level on an already stressful situation really sucks.

Battery Manager V. One of our most popular battery maintenance products, the Battery Manager V is designed to keep weekend warrior cars and those being stored for the winter ready to start when the weather breaks. The Battery Manager V doesn’t sit there and trickle power it’s much more active. Its microprocessor controlled multi-phase charging process reconditions a dead or weak battery (6- or 12-volt), and the unit even has an exercising mode that maintains battery health once charging is complete. The Battery Manager V is super safe as it includes reverse polarity protection, temperature compensation, short circuit protection, over-voltage protection, and a recovery mode to resume charging after power outages.

Wiper Blades & Windows

Vision is one of the many victims of foul weather and when you’re behind the wheel in the most trying of driving conditions a clear view of your surroundings is critically important. There are steps you can take to maximize your outward visibility. First your wiper blades should totally clear away any rain on the glass in a single swipe. If the blades pass over the glass missing spots or leave steaks it’s time to replace your wipers. Another nifty tip is upgrading your window washer fluid. Winter formula fluids have antifreeze ingredients in them and some can work at temperatures of -20-degrees Fahrenheit protection.

How We Can Help

Glass Sealant. Go beyond just keeping your glass clean and use some of our Glass Sealant the next time you detail your ride. It creates a hydrophobic surface that repels water instantly and helps you remove ice, salt, and frost more easily. Since the sealed surface is smoother, Glass Sealant helps your wipers work more efficiently and last longer.

Paint & Surface Finish

The elements can be tough so it’s wise to add a quick coat of protection. Even if you plan to cover your ride for the winter, a quick shot of sealant or wax will help protect the paint from blemishes caused by the car cover where it wraps around the body. Plus your car will be fully shined and ready for the road in the spring.

How We Can Help

One-Step Sealant. Meet an ultra-durable synthetic-based protectant that’s perfectly suited for combating harsh winter weather. You get mild defect correction from a product that can be applied by hand or machine and features fast and easy wipe-off… a win-win for you and your car.

Fall Car Care Tips & Tricks

Here are some other scheduled maintenance procedures to consider as you winterize your ride for the cold and snow. People often look at radiators and concern themselves with overheating but coolant is also called antifreeze for a reason. Beyond checking the level of the coolant/antifreeze check its ratio. Using an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store test the antifreeze protection level to ensure you’re running a 50:50 mix of water and antifreeze. Be sure headlights (including brights) and all signal and marker lights are working. Remove and hold your air filter up to a bright light. If the light shines through you’re good to go, if the light is blocked replace the filter. Also check your hoses and belts for fraying, cracking, and other tell-tale signs of impending doom.

Driving in the winter can be tough but following the tips and tricks outlined here will increase the confidence you have in your vehicle and make navigating through storms much more manageable. Happy winterizing.



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