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Cold weather car maintenance

I’ve started to notice a few questions related to the colder weather. It’s always better to take preventive measures instead of waiting for a problem to develop and then try to diagnose it. So just as a reminder, this is a good time for winter maintenance checks including:

  1. Oil change and general inspection including brakes, exhaust, etc.
  2. Check cooling system, belts and hoses for wear
  3. Might be time for new plugs/wires
  4. Replace old or worn tires
  5. Check the battery condition and replace if weak
  6. A good coating of wax never hurts
  7. Replace wiper blades
  8. Anything else you’ve been putting off for a while

Good point and good list. I’d add fluid levels to the list, including brake and tranny fluids.
I’m guessing you included those under “general inspection”.

And if you have the washer system filled with “summer mix”, I’d purge it and fill with “winter mix”. You definitely don’t want the washer fluid freezing up when driving home in a snowstorm.

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Well Bing , that is good list. The only problem is now the site will receive numerous posts that ask ’ what brand of wiper blades should I buy ’

LOL, not long ago I was at Walmart getting oil and saw a young lady looking lost at the wipers. I asked her if there was anything I could help with. She said she needed new wipers, but had no idea what to get or how to find out what to get. She was lost. I took the time to explain the basics to her and help her get the right ones, but it showed me that there are probably millions of people out there who have no idea how to maintain even the simplest items on a car.

I do a lot of basic maintenance on my ladyfriend’s car, and often assist my elderly neighbor, but if any of you know or see a senior citizen who might be needing help it would be a great thing to offer.


If she had a relationship with a local independent garage she would have been able to just drop by and ask for wipers, and someone would have had her out the door in 5 minutes for $25.

Or better yet, if she had the car on a regular maintenance schedule, the wipers wouldn’t need to be replaced, because they would have been inspected and replaced as needed and she wouldn’t have had to bother.

In another thread here recently I was lambasted, called corrupt, accused of having a conflict of interest, and lying to customers because I recommend to my customers that they not go more than 6 months without having the car in for an oil service and inspection.

I think the person/people who made that assertion are greatly overestimating the motoring public. I don’t think anyone here would agree that going 10,000 miles or a full year without so much as opening the hood, checking tire pressure, looking at the wipers, or checking for a burned out headlight is a good idea. But having worked in this industry all my life I can tell you that that is the case for more than the “millions” you talk about.

Did the woman know what kind of car she had? I once had someone tell me she drove a Ford Integra. When I asked her to pull her car around so I could see it, it was an Oldsmobile.

People drop their cars off because the washer fluid is low, because the low tire light is on, or sometimes because “some warning light” is on and they don’t know what it means. They drop the car off because the rear windows don’t roll down after they hit the lockout switch. They bring the car in because the Valet Key won’t open the trunk. They complain about the A/C not blowing cold when the car is not equipped with A/C. And so on…


All good points, but life comes at us on its own terms, not as we think it should be.
The lady was stumped. I helped her out. Nothing more, nothing less.


I doubt 10% of car owners consider anything besides oil changes, maybe, other fluids.

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You might be being generous… :rofl:

For the most part, our vehicles come in either every 3 or 6 months for scheduled preventive maintenance, depending on the size of the vehicle and some other factors

Anyways, I replace wiper blades at every service. No exceptions. Nobody’s going to accuse me of just servicing their vehicle, and the wipers aren’t doing their job properly

And I replace batteries every 5 years, no matter if they happen to test perfect

I believe I head off lots of unscheduled visits to the shop . . . or roadside calls, for that matter . . . by replacing items before they can become a problem

Not all of my colleagues think ahead, though. There is at least one guy who never replaces wipers unless they’re physically broken. And there are guys who never replace batteries unless they fail to start the vehicle or are acid-soaked

Invariably, the vehicles serviced by these guys come in . . . unscheduled, I might add . . . a few days or weeks afterwards, because it’s now raining, and the wipers are streaking, or it got particularly cold or hot, and the battery will no longer start the engine

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Actually I’m a fan of OEM now. I always used to buy Trico or whatever but I seem to get a lot longer service life and performance with OEM. The Acura refills were about $15 and a little effort to get them on correctly. The Pontiac is another story. I buy the whole blades because they have an odd connector. They are about $25 each but last a couple years. Stupid me though I got an AC air cleaner at the dealer because there was some confusion in the past over the correct part number. I figured what could it cost? Um $35 but I was too proud to tell her to put it back. Rock has them for about $10 or 15, but like I said there are two different part numbers and all I had before was a Fram part number. I’ll know what to order next time.

It was interesting though having a conversation some years ago with the DOT inventory manager about wiper blades, he said sometimes they need to replace them every day on the salt and sand trucks. So how do you figure out how much to stock? Just a bunch.

I actually use blades shorter than OEM. It reduces wind-caused chatter on the highway. My OEM driver’s side is 26", I use 24", and my passenger side is 17" OEM and I use 16". The difference in the amount of windshield surface cleaned is only at the top and bottom of the wiped areas and not noticeable, but how well the blades clear the glass at speed on the highway is very noticeable to the positive, especially when driving into the wind.

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I use Bosch beam type winter blades and leave them on year round, this last set has been on two years and still wipes perfectly. My last van had 28" blades and I used RainX beam types because they were much cheaper and the worked very well until I was on an expressway about 100 miles from home and one broke at the mounting point leaving the wiper arm scraping across my windshield. I lifted the wiper arm forward and drove about 20 miles with my head out the window to a small town that had a parts store. It was the same brand store I had bought the RainX wipers from and I only had to pay the difference to get the Bosch. The counterman said he sees this happen only with thw 26" and 28" blades.

On another site a poster was convinced that Brand XXX model number YYY.
was lower quality if sold at a big box store than if purchased at an auto parts store.

As far as knowledge: there are plenty of car people that think Ford built the Studebaker 289 V8.

My very bizarre old boss (the one who only purchased gas a few gallons at a time because “If you tell them to fill the tank they will cheat you” :face_with_raised_eyebrow:) was of the belief that he could only find “real” Colgate toothpaste at the small pharmacy in his town.

He actually believed that the Colgate toothpaste sold at the supermarket, and at Wal-Mart, was counterfeit, so he wound-up paying more for a 3 oz tube of toothpaste than he would have paid for the 7 oz size at a major retailer.

Another tip. Get a bright flashlight and shine it on the paint at the front and back of the wheel arches. You’re very likely to find paint chips there because that’s where all the debris on the road gets flung by the wheels. If it hasn’t rusted yet, put a couple of coats of touchup paint on it. If it has, wire-wheel until you’ve gotten rid of all the rust, then shoot a rust-converter on it followed by the touchup paint.

Do the same thing for the front of your hood while you’re at it. There’s nothing saying cars have to rust after just a few years - by doing this every year before winter hits I’ve managed to keep my 10 year old Honda rust-free.

I just went to change the wiper blades on my Odyssey and found the uber expensive ones I had bought won’t work! First time I ever ran into this so thought I’d share. The replacements will physically snap onto the arm but they are offset and designed to sit lower than the arm. Problem is, the wipers on the van park right above a trim panel and if the blade is not directly below the arm, they will not park properly. Talk about frustrating. I had to exchange them for a more conventional blade arrangement. The compatibility tools do not show this issue exists, said the first set should have been OK.

While bizarre, there is a grain of truth to his behavior. They once found dollar stores selling counterfeit toothpaste with very unhealthy stuff in it. But yes, you can trust the stuff at the supermarket.

Fortunately my mechanic checks out my car every time I have an oil change. Last time he found a seal wearing away and a split joint boot. Windshield wipers I do on my own.

But yes, I find myself trying to convince some people to get regular oil changes.