Daylight Savings Car Care Tips

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

On Sunday, November 3rd, the clocks get set back, marking the end of daylight saving time.

That means hoodies and hot cocoa—along with pumpkin everything—are just around the corner. And it also means you should prepare your car for a stretch of long nights and cold weather.

Standard time, also known as winter time, begins when daylight savings time ends.

When time change hits, you probably go through a checklist to ensure your home is ready for the cold weather. Among other things, you switch off the irrigation system, tune-up the furnace, and clean the gutters. Your car needs the same TLC before heading into the dark, chilly months.

We’ve put together a list of tips you can use to ensure your vehicle is up to par.

1. Check the Exterior and Interior Lights

Check your headlights

Since it’s getting darker earlier, you’ll want to make sure your car’s exterior lights are working properly. Interior lights are also important—you never know when you’ll have to hunt for a cell phone or wallet in the dark.

You can easily check your lights with the help of an assistant. Start by testing the interior lights.

Do they work? If yes then good. If not, change the bulbs and ensure they are working properly. Then you can move on to the exterior lights.

The easiest way is using the “buddy system” to check your headlights (low beam / high beam), brake lights, fog lights, signal lights, and all other exterior lights.

2. Inspect the Fluids

Under the hood fluids

Fluid properties change with the seasons.

Oil gets thicker when it’s cold, and coolant (also known as anti-freeze) can freeze if it’s diluted.

That’s why it’s super important to check your car’s fluids as the days get colder. If you decide to inspect the fluids yourself, follow the instructions listed in the owner’s manual.

You can also call us to do the job if you’re uncertain.

Under the hood fluids to check include:

Engine Coolant (Warning: Never check your coolant when the radiator cap is warm or hot to the touch. Severe injury may result.)

Power steering fluid (if your vehicle is so equipped)

Brake fluid

Windshield washer fluid

Transmission fluid (if there’s a dipstick—many modern vehicles don’t have one)

Some vehicles also have a separate differential(s) that needs to be checked, as well as a transfer case. But these fluids are checked from underneath, which means the vehicle must be safely raised and supported beforehand. It’s often best to let a professional check under car fluids.

3. Check the Tires

Although tires are critical year-round, they’re especially important in cold and icy weather.

So, let’s have a look at your car’s rubber, shall we?

Check the condition of the sidewalls. Look for defects, such as cracks, cuts, and bulges that indicate the tire is due for immediate replacement. Inspect the tread for cracks, uneven wear, cupping, and other defects. Check tire pressure by using a quality tire pressure gauge. On modern cars, you can find the inflation information listed on the tire placard inside the driver’s side door jamb.

4. Test the Battery

Get your battery tested!

An abrupt change in the weather can push a marginal battery over the edge.

That’s why it’s a good idea to get your battery tested before the cold strikes.

Unless you’re handy – and have the right tools – battery testing is something you should leave to a professional. Most auto parts stores will test your battery for free.

5. Check the Under hood Rubber Parts

Check your belts and hoses for wear.

Under hood rubber components last a lot longer than they used to. But we would be remiss if we didn’t remind you to take a peek at your belts and hoses. Check your drive belt(s) for cracks, fraying, and other flaws. As for the hoses, you’ll want to look for defects such as leaks, cracks, and bulges. Get any issues fixed right away.

6. Examine the Wiper Blades

We’ve all been there: you hit the wipers and water streaks across the windshield, making it impossible to see. That, my friend, is a sign of worn-out wiper blades—a problem that’s both inconvenient and dangerous. Check your wiper blades before the next storm hits. Start by activating the windshield washer.

Do the blades do a good job of clearing the washer fluid from the glass? Then they’re working as they should.

But if you haven’t replaced your blades in who-knows-how-long, you should still swap them out as a preventative measure. Most experts recommend replacement every six months to a year.

7. Make Sure Scheduled Service is Up-to-Date

Is it time to change your oil?

Remember that thing called an owner’s manual? It’s buried in your glove box beneath a mound of napkins. Dust it off, turn to the section that outlines scheduled maintenance, and make sure your car is up-to-date. You’ll want to address any overdue service before it gets dark and cold outside.

8. Repair Any Known Problems

Why is your engine light on?

If, say, your check engine light is ablaze, or you hear weird noises from your car’s undercarriage, now’s the time to get the problem fixed. Winter is right around the corner and you don’t want to break down when it’s freezing outside.

9. Make Sure the Heater is Working