How to Protect Your Car

October 25th, 2014 by

A man is shaking a mechanic's hand after asking about Cincinnati used car dealers.

McCluskey Chevrolet is one of the top Cincinnati used car dealers. Part of what has earned us that reputation is our dedication to selling some of the highest quality previously owned vehicles, and ensuring that they are in top shape before we sell them. When you buy a car with us, it will look and run nearly as good as new.

Many people around Cincinnati are loving the fall weather because the temperatures are cooler and the leaves are turning, creating lovely scenery. However, the fall can also pose a number of risks to your vehicle from damaging the exterior to gumming up the engine.

After you buy your used car from McCluskey, you’ll need to take the right steps to maintain it all year long and protect your investment. Here are a few things you can do to protect your car throughout the fall:

Get It Detailed

The long, hot summer can be hard on your car. Sand and salt from the beach, bugs, and bird droppings can all build up on your paint, leading to corrosion if left untreated. The salt and sand can also get rubbed into your carpets. Investing in professional car detailing can remove all of these corrosive elements and make sure your car is in top shape going into fall.

A good waxing will also make it easier to remove tree sap, bugs and other debris that can build up on your car in the fall.

Remove Debris Regularly

One of the biggest threats to your vehicle during the fall are leaves. Just over the course of a single night, leaves can blanket the floor — and your car. If you just leave them on your car, the leaves can break down and get into your engine, your air filter and more. The leaves can impair your car’s performance or even cause problems in the engine.

Keep Your Car Covered

Even if you remove leaves regularly, your car can still become victim to falling acorns, sap and more. These are things you can’t easily remove with your hands. Instead, you can protect your car by keeping it covered all season long. Either invest in a specialty car cover, or keep your car parked in the garage or under a carport.

When you shop one of the top Cincinnati used car dealers, you can get a great car at a great price. What happens to that car after you drive off the lot is up to you. Taking these simple steps can keep your car protected all fall long, ensuring the paint job stays pristine and the engine keeps performing as well as always.

2021 update

Earlier, we mentioned cleaning your car and getting it detailed, which is great, but it’s just as important that you keep it clean after you do that. It’s a good idea to have your car professionally cleaned at the start of the season, in late September, or to do it yourself if you’re willing to put in the time to be really thorough. But throughout the autumn, you want to maintain it and keep it clean – you can go through a carwash every week or two or clean your vehicle yourself.

The exterior is especially important for this – particularly if you live somewhere that you tend to get a lot of leaves on your vehicle. If you find that there’s some staining on the exterior of your vehicle after removing leaves and other debris, then you can use a soft towel and some distilled white vinegar to remove the stain. There are also stain-remover products available, but vinegar is often enough and something most people have around anyways. Once the stains are removed, then wash your vehicle or take it through an automatic wash to keep it looking great.

A hand is holding a tire gage to check the tire pressure on a car.

Check Your Tire Pressure

Although you should really check your tire pressure on a regular schedule, we know that it’s easy to overlook or forget this sometimes. As we move from summer to fall, however, it’s very important to keep a close eye on your tire pressure. In fact, you might want to check it more often than you usually do – perhaps every couple of weeks.

This is because the change in temperature can cause your tire pressure to fall, even if you don’t have a leak or other issue. If nothing else, when we get our first really cold nights, be sure to give yourself a few extra minutes in the morning to check your tire pressure and fill your tires if needed. As the days get cooler, and the change in temperature between night and day can be pretty significant, always keep an eye on your tire pressure to stay safe on the road.

Check Your Oil and Antifreeze

Again, you should be checking your oil anyways, but the changing weather in the fall makes it particularly important that you keep an eye on your oil and check it a bit more regularly than you might otherwise. As the nights get a lot colder, it’s important to give yourself extra time in the morning to let your vehicle warm up before you start driving it. This will make your ride smoother, and it’s easier on your engine and the rest of your vehicle.

We like to start our car with a few minutes for it to warm up and take that time to check our tires and make sure they look good. If one or more of them look a bit low, then we’ll do a tire pressure check with a gauge and see if we need to put some air in them. It’s easy to do these kinds of things all at once, and even minor steps like these make sure our vehicles are safe and stay in great shape throughout the autumn.

Winter Prep: A Pre-Winter Tune-Up

As the weather starts to cool, we also use this time as a reminder to make sure our vehicles are ready for the winter that’s just around the corner. Winter can be just as hard as summer on cars, trucks, and SUVs here in Cincinnati, but taking a few precautions to get ahead of the cold weather makes a big difference. For starters, we like to use this opportunity to take our vehicles to our favorite mechanic for a tune-up and inspection before the winter.

You can bring your car to us, and we’ll give it a good once over: changing your oil, checking your tires, and making sure everything looks great. An oil change before the winter is a great idea to make sure you have the proper amount of oil to protect your engine. Nothing beats the peace of mind of heading into winter, knowing your vehicle is prepared for whatever the cold months throw at you.

Winter Prep: New Tires and Alignment

We mentioned checking your tires a moment ago, but it’s worth looking at this a bit closer. When you have your tires checked before the winter, you want to make sure they have enough air in them and that the tread on them looks good. This is also a really good time to have your wheels aligned so that it’s easier to drive on wet roads during the cold months.

It’s a good idea to consider changing to winter tires for the best and safest driving experience during the cold weather. Winter tires are designed to stay soft in cold temperatures to keep you in control, and they have excellent tread depth for dealing with slush, snow, and rain. We like to use winter tires on our vehicles from about the middle of November through March or into early April just to be safe.

A set of tires are shown standing up at a Cincinnati used car dealer.

Winter Prep: Rustproofing and Undercoating

We probably don’t have to tell you that winter weather is rough on your vehicle – in particular, the underside and wheel wells of your car. It’s impossible to keep these parts of your vehicle dry very long during the winter, plus salt and dirt from the road mixed with this moisture is a recipe for rust and damage. The best way to avoid this is to protect the underside through rustproofing and a good undercoat on those components.

A lot of vehicles come from the factory with underside rust proofing and sealant on seams to keep moisture out. Over time, however, the effectiveness of this wears down, so with a used vehicle, it’s a great idea to have new undercoating applied and to have seams sealed again to protect your vehicle. While you can do this yourself, it’s a lot easier to bring your vehicle to us and have our certified service professionals lift your car up and give the underside a good layer of protection against slush and salt.

Winter Prep: Check Your Emergency Supplies

Finally, before the weather gets too cold, it’s a great time to check the emergency supplies in your vehicle and make sure it all looks good. You should always have an emergency kit in your vehicle, but in the winter, it can truly be a matter of life or death to have these things available if you break down or otherwise find yourself stranded in the cold. Your emergency supplies should include:

  • First aid kit
  • Ice scraper
  • Flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Small shovel
  • Bag of sand or cat litter (useful for traction)
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Plenty of water
  • Shelf-stable food (some mixed nuts are great)
  • Blankets
  • Extra clothes (socks, gloves, sweater, etc.)

Keeping these things in your vehicle can ensure you are ready for an emergency situation. When cold weather is an issue, a change of clothes and blankets can make a huge difference in staying safe and warm if you get stuck in a snowbank. Most of these things you should have in your vehicle year-round, but just before winter is a great time to double-check them and replace anything you’ve used during the year.