When we talk about car health, what we are talking about is making sure that your vehicle is always running at peak performance and that every system and component on your vehicle is being maintained.  Why is it important to take advantage of a car maintenance service in order to maintain car health?  Well, there are typically two reasons you end up at your local auto shop: for preventative maintenance or car repairs.  The major difference is that the second one is much more expensive.

Ask yourself whether you would rather spend a couple hundred dollars a year for preventative maintenance or if you would like to neglect your car health and end up coming in for a repair that could easily be over a thousand dollars.  Convinced yet?  I thought so.  Let’s get started.  The most important part of a car maintenance service is basic things like checking fluid levels, getting oil changes etc.  But, in the winter time there are a few things that are especially important to check.  So, to keep you driving smoothly and without issues, here are 3 quick items you can check to make sure that your vehicle is running as smoothly (and safely) as possible this winter.

No Tread Tire
If your tires are this bald you had better get them replaced quick! (photo by The Tire Zoo via Flickr)
  1. Tire Tread – In the winter, drivers are much more likely to run into icy, slippery and challenging road conditions.  All of this means that it is essential to have good tires with adequate tread so that your vehicle can grip the road and avoid a nasty slide that may result in a crash!  To check the tread on your tires, all you need is a quarter.  Put the quarter inside the tread of the tire (edge touching the tread).  Make sure that Washington’s head is at least halfway covered up by the tread.  Then check it in a different place on the same tire.  Then try each of your other tires as well.  If you find that the tread is low, head to your local auto shop to get some new ones.  If you live in an area that regularly gets a lot of snow or ice, you may want to consider snow tires for the ultimate in traction and winter driving safety.
  2. Battery – Freezing winter temperatures put a lot of stress on car batteries (especially cheaper ones).  If your battery fails to put out an adequate charge in these situations (or if the charge fluctuates too much) it could also cause problems for another important component of your car’s engine: the alternator.  Although replacing the alternator is a relatively simply and inexpensive repair, you’d do better to ensure to test your battery’s charge in order to avoid an issue like that in the first place.  You can purchase battery testers at your local auto parts store or just take it to a local auto shop for testing.
  3. Oil Type – Although any oil type that is rated for your engine will work, frigid temperatures in the winter mean that your vehicle’s engine will run even more efficiently with the lightest oil that your vehicle can accept.  Stop in to your local auto shop to get a quick oil change and they will do this for you.  Keeping your oil system clean and running efficiently is one of the most important parts of a car maintenance service and is crucial for ensuring car health.

So, what are you waiting for?  Go check out your car and then head to your local auto shop if you need to!