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Celebrate Fall Car Care Month with proper maintenance

The arrival of October brings about the start of Fall Car Care Month. Although drivers should be paying attention to the upkeep of their vehicles at all times of the year, focusing on maintenance just as the temperatures start to drop can pay off in the long run. 

"Getting your vehicle ready for winter while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventative maintenance that helps ensure safety, reliability and fewer unexpected car repairs when severe winter weather strikes," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. 

Some motorists may have a general idea of areas that need some extra attention as winter approaches, such as the brakes or tires, but there are a few other aspects that should not be overlooked. Here are three ways you can prep an off-road vehicle or everyday ride for the upcoming months: 

Rebuild the engine
One of the most thorough ways to improve the performance of a vehicle in the fall and winter is to rebuild the engine. This involves disassembling the motor and cleaning all of the individual parts, while also replacing any pieces that may be worn or broken. Then drivers will put it all back together, making sure all parts are tight and secure as they do so. 

Not only can this process allow you to get a better idea of how your automobile is holding up, but it will also improve the general performance and power output of the vehicle. When done properly, rebuilding the engine can eliminate worries about ending up stranded during off-road driving adventures in tough conditions. 

"Before severe winter weather arrives, it is a good idea to make sure your vehicle's engine is running effectively and efficiently," said Rick Simko, chairman of the Engine Rebuilders Council. "If you find that your car or truck is experiencing major engine damage, but is in relatively good shape otherwise, considering repowering it with a rebuilt engine so you can count on it when temperatures drop." 

Wash your car regularly
It may seem strange to wash your car despite heavy snows or low temperatures, but in reality, it is one of the most important things you can do to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. Waxing regularly to seal the paint against moisture is a must, as is washing the road salt off the underside and bottom of a vehicle. Too much of the salt and moisture can facilitate rust, which is detrimental to your automobile's value and can impact its performance. 

You should make it a point to wash your vehicle after off-roading adventures, which could have left dirt and debris in hidden parts of a car. 

Check the HVAC system
Having a high-functioning heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system goes far beyond comfort. This system is essential for keeping everything under the hood operating as it should. Cold weather may cause a windshield or other glass surface to become brittle, and even the lowest of temperatures won't stop an engine from overheating should the ventilation under the hood go awry.  

To prevent these problems, carefully evaluate all aspects of the HVAC system. It is also important to make sure the defroster is working well and is able to keep visibility high. As you evaluate this aspect of your vehicle, be sure to give the wipers and antifreeze a second look. Wiper blades need to be replaced every six months and should have no visible cracks or tears. The antifreeze should be replenished and at the proper level to keep the car functioning no matter what the weather is like.