Getting your vehicle ready ahead of winter

Stretching Your Dollar

INDIANAPOLIS – This is the time of year to get your vehicle ready for winter before the cold temperatures set in and you possibly get stranded. 

To stretch your dollar, FOX59 found out what needs to be done to your vehicle and why.  The first customer we spoke with was very fortunate she was getting her car serviced when she did.

“I drove up because I wanted to have my car serviced.  I know I needed an oil change before winter and I thought I’d get everything else looked at too while I was here,” said Emily Davis, a customer at Jiffy Lube in Brownsburg.

For about $45, Emily had her car serviced.  During the inspection, technicians found a nail in her tire.  It could have left her stranded once it started to leak.  That can happen at any time and at any place, especially when temperatures outside change.

“This vehicle was just in here for an oil change and during the routine service, we discovered a nail in one of her tires.  She had no idea, so we were able to identify that and take care of it very quickly for her.  She will be out and on her way and not be stuck in two weeks with a flat tire in a snow storm, so it’s great,” said Lonnie Hinkle, chief operating officer for Jiffy Lube of Indiana. 

Like many car care centers, they have adapted their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  At this facility, everyone is kept safe and distanced.  When customers come in, they can stay in the comfort of their own car and get the service in a matter of minutes. 

Fluids are one of the key things you need to make sure are checked wherever you go, from oil to transmission fluid and wiper fluid.  In many cases, it’s not just about having the liquid, but having the proper mixture.

“Some vehicles have an alternate viscosity that’s not normally used during fair weather or warm weather situations.  In the winter time, it’s important you use the right oil as well as taking care of all your vehicles fluids as well.  Also key is flushing your fluids accordingly,” said Blaine Heiny, a Jiffy Lube technician.

Now let’s talk about batteries.  You may not know yours isn’t up to snuff until it gets really cold outside.  Some of the key battery functions include providing power to the starter motor, ignition system, fuel system and other electrical devices when starting the engine.

“We have a battery testing machine that will also test starting and charging systems as well.  So we program your car into the tester that also has the cold cranking amps of your battery and the machine tests it and tells us where it stands,” said Hinkle.

Your car battery may be just fine or it might need to be replaced.  There’s also the possibility the battery terminals just need a quick cleaning. 

Another thing you should do is have your wipers checked, which is included at most places.  The good news is modern wipers last longer then they used to, but they still should be checked.  If you get out onto the interstate and a bunch of road salt splatters your windshield, or there’s a downpour, that’s not the time you want to discover that your wiper blades need to be replaced.

There are even more items most service centers will check, but one of the most important is your tire tread.  If you’re at home, you can do the penny test.  Put a penny in between the tread with Lincoln’s head down into the tread.  If you see all of his head, the tread is too worn down.  Car care centers use a more precise tool that you can also buy and put down between the treads.

“A tire is considering legally bald at 1/16th of an inch deep tread.  Once they get down to 1/8 of an inch of tread left, they are not legally bald, but you really need to start thinking about changing those tires,” said Hinkle.  

Most facilities will inspect your tires and many will give you a written evaluation with detailed diagnoses that are then reviewed with the customer.  At Jiffy Lube, new tire price quotes are based on the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications and availability.  

Don’t forget that underinflated or overinflated tires can decrease your fuel economy and shorten the lifespan of your tires. When tires are not filled to the recommended pounds per square inch or (PSI), it causes them to wear unevenly or be susceptible to damage caused by road imperfections. 

You can find the recommended PSI for your tires on the sticker inside the driver’s doorjamb. In most newer cars, you should also keep an eye on your TPMS dash indicator. While those tire pressure monitor sensors are convenient, they still don’t replace a good inspection from a qualified technician.

To stretch your dollar even further, look for coupons and online deals wherever you are taking your vehicle.

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