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Understanding Seasonal Car Maintenance

Truck driving in forest.

Car maintenance intervals don’t only tie-in to how many miles you drive in a given year — they’re also linked to the seasons. If you live in a part of the country where the difference between winter and summer driving is stark, then you might already be familiar with the regular rituals of tire swaps, fluid changes, and other seasonal car maintenance duties. But if seasonal changes are more subtle in your neck of the woods, you can still use this natural clock to help time your basic vehicle maintenance.

Tires, Tires, Tires

If winter means “snow” where you live, then you already understand the need to install a set of cold weather tires once the leaves have all fallen from the trees. If you are blessed with sunshine and relatively mild temperatures all year-round, you might not be putting on a new set of rubber, but you should still rotate your tires, check the level of air in each of them and inspect the tread and sidewall for cracks or signs of excessive wear. Once the warmer weather returns and northerners are installing their summer tires, then you can repeat the rotation and inspection process once more.

Check Your Fluid

Seasonal temperature changes also give you the chance to schedule fluid inspections, which are an often-overlooked aspect of car maintenance. Cold weather climate dwellers will want to make sure that their windshield washer fluid contains enough alcohol to withstand freezing weather. This is also true of engine coolant, which can be easily assessed with a simple coolant tester.

If you live where cold temps are a scary bedtime story you tell your kids, then you should still use the changing of the seasons as a sign that it’s time to check the coolant level in your radiator. While you’re at it, check the oil and the brake fluid, too, to make sure both are topped up and that neither has turned a dark or murky color (which signals a need for a change).

Inspect and Replace

Seasonal car maintenance also includes inspecting items on your vehicle that commonly wear out in order to see if they need to be replaced. Specifically, rubber or plastic components like windshield wiper blades, engine belts and battery cables are all worth taking a look at. If you see any cracks, discoloration or signs of corrosion around the battery, these are solid indicators that the part should be replaced.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on seasonal car maintenance, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Freeimages

Benjamin Hunting View All

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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