October is Car Care Month. Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Center would like to remind motorists that as the weather cools, a complete vehicle checkup may be necessary to maintain safety and maximize efficiency.

We have provided a comprehensive checklist for winter car care for those who prefer to complete the inspection independently. Or if you are not so comfortable inspecting your vehicle yourself, you can bring your car into any one of our four locations around the Reno – Sparks area.

Winter Car Care Checklist

Battery and Charging System – A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. It is recommended to speak with one of our ASE certified technicians who can test your battery and replace it on-site, if necessary. Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Centers Full Service Auto Repair Shops can also test and replace weak batteries.

Battery Cables and Terminals – Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight. This task can be easily accomplished using a few simple steps:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of baking soda with 1 cup (250 ml) of very hot water.
  2. Dip an old toothbrush into the mixture and scrub the top of the battery to remove corrosion buildup.
  3. You can even dip the ends of the battery cables in hot water to dissolve any corrosion on the cable ends themselves.

Drive Belts – Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks or fraying. Many newer multi-rib “serpentine” belts are made of materials that do not show obvious signs of wear; replace these belts at 60,000-mile intervals.

Engine Hoses – Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or have an excessively spongy feeling.

Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, installing snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires work well in light-to-moderate snow conditions provided they have adequate tread depth. Replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.

There are several popular ways to check your tire tread depth. One easy way is the penny test.

  1. Simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you.
  2. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires.

Tire Pressure – Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door.

Also, if your tires have been filled with nitrogen, we suggest re-filling with nitrogen as well. You can come into MST Tire Center for Nitrogen Services.

Air Filter – Check the engine air filter by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.

Coolant Levels – Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. Test the antifreeze protection level annually with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.

Lights – Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.

Wiper Blades – The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In regions where snow is common, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.

Washer Fluid – It is best to fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing.

Brakes – If there is any indication of a brake problem, have the system inspected by an ASE Certified Technician at one of our four locations around the Reno – Sparks area to ensure all components are in good working order.

Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids – Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.

Emergency Road Kit – Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include:

  • Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
  • Drinking water
  • First-aid kit
  • Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Blankets
  • Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)

For more information or if you would like to setup a COURTESY WINTER VEHICLE INSPECTION appointment for your vehicle, please just find a Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Center location near you.

courtesy-winter-inspection

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