Take care of your car before the winter

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 25, 2016


METRO DETROIT — Soon it will be time to bundle up for the winter, and it likewise will be a good idea to bundle up some time to take care of your vehicle before the snowfall starts.

The nonprofit Car Care Council says October is Fall Car Care Month, and it recommends that drivers get their vehicles’ engines, belts, hoses, brakes, fluids and more checked before it’s too cold — and potentially too late. 

Bill Griffin, owner of Griffin’s Neighborhood Auto Clinic in Farmington Hills, said his business helps people who want to prevent an auto performance failure when the cold weather comes.

“We do free winter safety inspections,” he said. “We shake down the entire vehicle, get all the fluids, make sure you don’t have any loose suspension components, make sure the brakes are in good operating order.”

Griffin said it’s imperative to check the fluids before entering winter — especially the coolant, which he said should be able to protect the vehicle in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. He said the transmission fluid also should not be neglected, and a mechanic should inspect it to make sure that filter and gasket service, or an overall fluid exchange, are not necessary.

In terms of the tires, proper alignment and good tread condition are musts in slippery conditions. Griffin said tires should be replaced if the rubber’s tread depth is 3/32 of an inch or less. He also recommended inspecting the condition of the wiper blades and doing a charging system check on the condition of the battery, alternator and starter.

Matt Lifter, owner of Motor City AutoSpa in Royal Oak, said his business deals with the polishing, waxing and interior fabric protection aspects of winterizing. Preventative maintenance can mitigate the damaging effects of road salt to the doorjamb seams and other parts of the vehicle, he explained.

“Obviously, salt can eat away at the factory finish and weld points and the undercarriage,” he said. “Just keeping a car clay-barred and polished and waxed is an important thing to do to maintain the vehicle and keep a good shine.”

Lifter recommended that vehicles get detailing work done once every six months or a year to best protect them from the elements, and he recommended regular washes in the winter to keep the salt off. Additional precautions can include adding a scratch-resistant, chemical-resistant ceramic coating to the vehicle,
and applying protection film is another option, he said.

“That can save the front end from damage (by) the salt or rocks,” he said.

Learn more about Griffin’s Neighborhood Auto Clinic in Farmington Hills by visiting www.griffinsautoclinic.com or by calling (248) 888-9406. Contact Motor City AutoSpa in Royal Oak by visiting www.motorcityautospa.com or by calling (248) 288-6772. For more information on Fall Car Care Month, visit www.carcare.org.