When the seasons change, there’s a lot to do. You have to change out your wardrobe, get the house ready for the shifting weather, and more. Just don’t forget that in addition to all that, you also need to prepare your vehicle for the upcoming season. Here are the steps you should take to get your Toyota ready for the changing seasons and some extra tips.
Once winter rolls around, there are going to be significantly different road conditions for your vehicle to manage. That means you’ll have to make some changes if you want it to perform as well as possible. Use this checklist as a guide.
1- Inspect the Tires
Inspecting your tires before the winter arrives is absolutely essential. In most areas, wintertime means ice and snow on the ground so having as much grip on the road as possible is paramount to your safety in the vehicle. If your tires aren’t up to the task, you should repair or replace them as soon as possible. Here’s how to check.
Start by just looking at the tires to see if you notice any obvious damage like bits of missing rubber or some bubbles under the surface of the rubber. The presence of either of these issues would indicate the tires likely need to be replaced.
The next step is to look at the tread depth on the tires. You can use the “penny test” to see if the tread depth on your tires is sufficient. To do so, stick a penny into the treads so you can read the writing. If you can still see Lincoln’s head when the penny hits the bottom of the tread, the tires should be replaced or rotated.
Tire rotation is especially important in the wintertime so don’t neglect to do it. The wear on your tires generally accumulates unevenly which can lead to uneven driving. Uneven driving is even more dangerous in snowy, icy conditions so get your tires rotated regularly in the winter to avoid this problem.
2- Check Your Battery
It’s not uncommon to deal with a dead car battery in the winter but it’s not ideal. Before the season arrives, you should check your vehicle’s battery to make sure it has enough power left to cover all the winter months. If it doesn’t or if the battery appears to be in bad shape for some reason, you should consider replacing it.
3- Check the Heater
It’s bad enough the weather outside gets freezing cold in the winter, you don’t want the temperature inside your vehicle to be uncomfortably cold, too. You should make sure your vehicle’s heater is working properly before winter comes to avoid this problem.
If there is a problem with your car’s heating, there are several possible sources of the issue. A faulty heater core is a common cause but worn-out water pumps and low levels of coolant can also cause you to lose heat inside the cabin.
4- Look at the Fluid Levels
While it’s always important to keep an eye on your vehicle’s fluid levels, it’s even more important in the winter months. In particular, you’ll want to make sure that your vehicle has enough antifreeze. This is something you can check with a hydrometer or some test strips. Just be sure not to check the antifreeze level while your vehicle’s engine is still hot as this could lead to severe injury. Wait until the engine is fully cool to check your fluid levels.
Of course, you should also look at the other under-hood fluids in the vehicle like the power steering fluid, engine oil, and transmission fluid (if applicable). If you have any doubts about the fluid levels in your vehicle, you should bring it to a mechanic. It’s better to get everything cleared up before the cold weather hits. Low or dirty fluids are the reason behind many vehicle breakdowns and you don’t want to get stuck out in the cold somewhere.
5- Inspect the Brakes
When the road conditions are less than optimal in the winter, you’ll want all the stopping power you can get in your vehicle. That’s why you should inspect your vehicle’s brakes before the winter rolls around. Brake pads should be replaced regularly so if you haven’t replaced them recently, now is the time.
When winter’s over and summer rolls around, you should take many of the same steps to prepare your vehicle for summer as you did for winter. It’s still important to check on your tires, battery, fluid levels, and brakes in the summer. This is just part of regular, preventative maintenance.
One difference between preparing your vehicle for the winter and preparing it for the summer is that you should check your air conditioning rather than your heater. As the weather heats up, you’ll want to know that your vehicle can manage the temperature and keep you cool. You can check your air conditioning yourself before the summer arrives by just turning it on and making sure cool air comes out of the vents but it’s a good idea to have a mechanic check, too.
At the service station, your mechanic will look more closely at the air conditioning system to check for any problems. If they find something, you’ll want to get the problem fixed as soon as possible. It’s no fun to be sitting in a boiling hot car in the summer months.
All these steps are part of a preventative maintenance routine that will keep your vehicle working as well as possible for as long as possible.
For any help with preparing your Toyota for the changing seasons, consult your local mechanic. If you don’t already have a trusted mechanic, you can search “Toyota specialist near me” or head to Toy Car Care in Centennial, CO. We have years of experience helping vehicle owners like you keep their vehicle in the best possible condition. Reach out now to learn more!