Fall maintenance can make a big difference

Winter is only a glimmer on the horizon, but many drivers are taking steps to get their vehicles ready for the seasons ahead. In fact, fall is one of the best times to perform tune ups and get problem areas checked out. With summer's heavy off-roading season in the rear-view mirror, now is the time to look over an automobile and evaluate what work needs to be done to prepare it for the inclement weather ahead. 

Here are some aspects of a vehicle that you should be checking on as fall begins: 

Air filter
An air filter protects the engine from debris or other airborne contaminants, and if it gets clogged, it can seriously hamper the performance of your engine. Replacing the filter outright should boost power almost immediately, and it is among the easiest ways to upgrade the performance of an off-road vehicle. You never know what could have gotten into your automobile's system after some off-road adventures in the wilderness, so cleaning it out prior to new fall or winter rides is a wise choice. 

Battery
Excessive heat can be harmful to a battery. High temperatures may be one of the main causes of battery failure, but drivers who take precautions to have it checked out can avoid breakdowns. Assessing the battery for any type of corrosion or damage is a must, and it is also a good idea to run separate battery testing and replace it if necessary. 

Brakes
You should be checking the brakes for wear and tear consistently throughout the year. It is particularly important to examine them in the fall because of the excess of driving that took place in the summer coupled with the need for strong brakes on slick fall roads. Look for pads that need to be replaced and conduct some test drives to verify that every aspect of the brakes is functioning as it is supposed to. 

Fluid levels
Owners need to examine the fluid levels on their vehicles at regular intervals, but it is particularly important to give them a second look in the fall. Hardcore off-roading in the summer may have contributed to additional wear or build up in engine oil as well as other vehicle fluids. As the temperature changes throughout the coming months, and you face a variety of different obstacles, continue to check fluids like engine oil, antifreeze and transmission and brake fluid. 

Wiper blades
Once your vehicle is stocked with wiper fluid and antifreeze, you should turn your attention to the wipers themselves. The blades are an essential tool for all automobiles, and you should never underestimate the need for fresh wipers. Heavy rains, layers of ice and debris from off-road driving are all common sights on a windshield throughout the fall and winter, and the only way to properly cut through all of these distractions is with heavy-duty wiper blades. 

Emergency kit
The changing of the seasons means you will also need different items stocked in an emergency kit. Consider adding a blanket in case you have a breakdown in the middle of some cold weather as well as packets of road salt or sand that can help you get out of slippery situations. Examining recovery straps or jumper cables for any excess wear and tear is also a good idea that could save time and aggravation in the long run. If any of this equipment isn't up to par, the fall is a good time to replace them and test out new options to get ready for winter.