When I was a kid, my dad always made sure he took the cars in for Spring and Fall checkups. I was telling a friend that it’s about time to get into the shop for my checkup and he said that he read on the internet that modern cars don’t need seasonal service.
My friend is technically, right about some things, but from a practical standpoint, a seasonal check up still makes sense.
Back when my dad was teaching me about how to take care of the family car, most cars used a different weight of oil in the winter and in the summer. But most of today’s modern engines run the same oil year round. High-tech engines and high-tech motor oils are better able to handle the seasonal changes.
Your owner’s manual or service advisor can tell you the right oil to use.
Of course, you’re concerned about the coolant or antifreeze. You don’t want to overheat in the summer or freeze up in the winter. Your engine cooling system protects against both of these things. And modern coolant – or as it’s sometimes called, antifreeze – is up to doing both very well. It’s designed to last for more miles than most people drive in a year or two.
So how does a Spring and Fall check-up fit in? Let’s start with Spring. Summer is coming. That means heat, more miles driven and road trips. It just makes sense to check your fluid levels and do a visual inspection to see that everything is up to snuff.
You may not be scheduled to drain and replace the coolant for some time, but you need to make sure you have enough coolant, and that you don’t have any leaks or hoses that are about to fail.
That’s pretty practical – a check-up to see if there are any problems or emerging conditions that could later become a problem, like a cracked belt.
And the same principle applies for getting ready for winter. Cold weather means lots of failed batteries. It takes more power to crank up a cold engine, and cold also decreases the available cranking power the battery has available.
So a battery test in the Fall could tell you if you’ve got a battery that is running on its last legs. And of course, if you live where winter temperatures get below 45 degrees or you have ice and snow, you’ll want to consider changing to winter tires.
So Spring and Fall checkups are practical reminders to get ready for the demands of the hot and cold seasons to come.
And odds are that you have one or more routine services that are due anyway. Like a transmission service, brake or power steering fluid, differential service – stuff like that. Are your wiper blades still good? Are your headlamps starting to dim?
So Spring and Fall: change your clocks, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors – and get a check-up for your cars.
See, dad was right again.