Pretty soon the Midwest weather will turn cold with rain, sleet, and snow lining the roadways. Driving safely during the fall and winter months is important but it requires more than just cautious driver behavior. Your automobiles also need some attention. Now is the best time to prepare.

Our legal team has prepared some tips to help get your vehicles ready for fall. No we are certainly not mechanics, but like you, we own and drive on the same roads. We see friends, family, and clients struggle with roadway accidents. We defend them in the courtroom and feel it’s equally important to defend them before the unfortunate reality of an accident happens.

Check your brakes and your tires. Inclement weather and associated road conditions and other hazards require good stopping power. That means good brakes and tires. If the tires have wear bars showing, say the experts, you need to replace the tires. Most good brake and tire shops will inspect the brakes and tires at no charge. It is also very important to check the tire pressure, as tire pressure drops when the outside temperatures plummet. Keep the pressure at levels recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Check the inside of your driver door panel for more information on tire pressure requirements.

Check your lights. Walk around the outside of your car and check the operation of all lights: headlights, taillights, parking lights, brake lights and emergency flashers. Replace all broken bulbs and those that have stopped working. Make sure all lights are clean. If you own an older vehicle with sealed-beam headlamps, you may want to upgrade to halogen lamps for improved visibility and safer driving.

Replace your wiper blades. The purpose of wiper blades is to completely clear the windshield. Cracked or worn blades won’t do an adequate job. Check the blade’s rubber to ensure it is flexible and operate the wipers to see that the blades clear the glass. Replace your worn blades.

Make sure heater/defroster work. Driving with an improperly working heater isn’t fun or safe. Driving with fogged-up windows is an accident waiting to happen. Check front and rear window defrosters to ensure proper working condition. If necessary, have heater and defroster systems repaired.

Have your battery checked. A fully charged battery is necessary to start the car in cold weather. Have the battery and charging system inspected by a trained technician who can replace it if required. If you see signs of corrosion on the battery terminals or cable ends or if you spot loose connections, your battery needs attention.

Inspect under the hood. Looking under the hood will allow you to identify any obvious signs of wear or items that need replacing or fixing. Look for leaks, cracks or loose clamps in the cooling system and squeeze the hoses and replace any that are spongy-feeling or brittle. Inspect the underside of drive belts for fraying and replace as required. If you’ve noticed any engine noises, experienced sputtering or other engine problems, have a licensed mechanic thoroughly inspect the engine and make any necessary repairs.

Change oil and air filter. If the oil is dirty or you’re at your recommended oil change time, change the oil. Also check the air filter to ensure that it is clean enough to allow for proper operation. If you can’t see light through it when you hold it up to a 60-watt bulb, it’s time to replace the air filter.

Check all fluid levels. This includes washer fluid, along with transmission, brake and power steering fluids. Make sure they are all at or above minimum safe levels and refill as necessary.

Refill cooling system. Experts such as AAA recommend checking the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is too low, add a 50/50 solution of water and coolant to allow proper antifreeze capability. It may be necessary to refill the cooling system.

And finally…

Get a good car wash/detail. It may sound crazy, spiffing up your car with an extra-special wash or even a detail, but when your vehicle is clean, it’s easier to spot any potential problems.

Have a safe and happy holiday season on the roads. If you have happen to be involved in an accident on the roadways or have a legal question concerning you, call Yonke Law today. We are here to protect the rights and safety of Kansas Citians. Our lawyers genuinely care what happens to our clients. We take injury claims on contingency, so you will not have to pay anything unless and until we win your case. Call us today at (816) 221-6400 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer from our firm. It matters to us what happens to you.