School is starting, which means fall and winter carpools will become a regular occurrence very soon. However, there are things you should do to prepare for the carpool, besides checking to make sure you have all the kids. Have you checked your car’s breaks, windshield wipers, and fluids lately? You also should wax your car to prevent paint damage from all the salt and chips on the road. Here are some great tips on how to prepare your car for the fall and winter carpool.
TIRES–Keep a handheld tire-pressure gauge in your vehicle and check tires monthly. Your optimal tire pressure will be unique to your vehicle and can be found in one of three locations: the glove box, your door jam or the fuel filter door. Inspect each tire for wear indicators (wear bars look like narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread and appear when it’s time to replace the tire). If you see more than three wear bars, it’s time for a replacement.
BRAKES–If you turn down the radio and you still hear a horrible noise every time you press the brake pedal, visit a mechanic immediately. Other less obvious indicators of brake problems are mushy brakes (may need brake fluid) or pulling to one side (brake pads too tired to do the job much longer).
SEAT BELTS–According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 157,500 lives have been saved by safety belts in the last 20 years. Always buckle seat belts and make sure they are securely fastened. Inspect the entire length of each seat belt at the beginning of each season. Look for small tears or snags (usually from some overly complicated car-seat contraption that the saleswoman made look effortless). If you see any wear, do not let a passenger ride in this seat until a repair is made. You can take the vehicle to the manufacturer dealership for repairs or a complete replacement.
COOLANT–Check your fluids when the car is cold and on a flat surface. You can visually check the antifreeze level with a flashlight. The reservoir will be found near the front of the engine and should be kept at optimal levels.
WIPER BLADES–Even a small squeak as the wiper blades pass over your windshield indicate the need for a replacement. Rubber blades can dry out and become brittle. Be ready for rough winter weather with a fresh set.