Car Care Tips for Students and Parents
(ARA) - Parents and students will do well to get
their vehicles in shape before winter arrives, according to the pros
and the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service
Excellence (ASE). Many breakdowns can be avoided entirely by routine
maintenance. The following tips from ASE should give parent and
student alike a road map to fall car care.
First things first -- Read your owner’s manual
and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.
Engine Performance -- Get engine driveability
problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power,
etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather will make
existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters—air, fuel, PCV, etc.
Fuel -- Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank
once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line.
Note, too, that a gas tank that’s kept filled helps prevent moisture
Oil -- Change your oil and oil filter as
specified in your manual -- more often (every 3,000 miles or so) if
your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short
Cooling System -- The cooling system should be
flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and
concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A
50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) If
you’re doing your own work, never remove the radiator cap until the
engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive
belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a certified auto
Heater/Defroster -- The heater and defroster must
be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver
Windshield Wipers -- Replace old blades. If your
climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice
build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent; you’ll be surprised
how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.
Battery -- The only accurate way to detect a weak
battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away
corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces;
re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check
fluid level monthly.
A word of caution: Removal of cables can cause
damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles. Check your
manual. Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery
acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
Lights -- Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace
burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To
prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
Exhaust System -- Your vehicle should be placed
on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and
floorboards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can
Tires -- Worn tires will be of little use in
winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven
wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check
tire pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before
checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your
spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
Emergencies -- Carry gloves, boots, blankets,
flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a
flashlight, and a cell phone. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your
For more car care tips, visit
Courtesy of ARA Content
EDITOR’S NOTE: The National Institute for Automotive Service
Excellence (ASE) was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent
organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive
service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification
of automotive professionals. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and
white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their
exact area(s) of certification, while their employers often display
the blue and white ASE sign. They can be found at all types of
repair facilities from dealerships to independent garages and
franchises. Visit www.ase.com for more information.