Winter car maintenance: Get your vehicle ready for winter and save money

CLEVELAND - As winter approaches, one of the first things you need to look at are your vehicle's tires. Sam Jakabcic, Conrad's regional manager, says when you are looking at your tires, play close attention to the wear pattern.

If the outside of the tire is worn, it is under inflated. If the center is worn, the tire is over inflated so air pressure is key.

"When you do go to check your air pressure, the first thing you want to know is the pressure. So there are two places on the vehicle that you'll look at to find that. First is down here inside the driver's door jam and it will indicate front and rear and it will give a pressure reading for both the first and rear tires. The other area you can look is the glove box or owner's manual," said Jakabcic.

Conrad's also provides 24-hour air machines at all our stores and if it is during business hours, a Conrad's technician will check the air pressure for you at no cost.

Next are oil changes. They can range from every 3,000 miles up to 8,000 miles. Newer models come with oil life indicators that let you know it is time to change it. When you change your oil, check your filter. It could be time to change that too. If it is real dark and dirty, change it. A new filter costs just $8 to $10 and a clean filter means you get better gas mileage.

Next, check the battery.

"A rule of thumb is when you go into the winter time, you're going to want to have your battery inspected," Jakabcic said.

If it has corrosion on it, typically a blue or white color, clean it off. You should also have the battery tested. Conrad's will do a free battery test. They will hook a monitor to the battery and it will tell you how much life is left in the battery.

"There are plenty of different things that can drain a battery. We don't think about the car chargers we use in our cars for our cell phones that puts a drain on the batteries. There's a lot of electronic devices that maybe in the past, weren't being used as much as we are using them." he said.

This is also a good time of year to inspect your windshield wipers. You want to rub your hand across the rubber part of the blade to feel for nicks, or pieces of rubber missing. If metal contacts the windshield it could scratch it. New wiper blades cost on average about $10 to $12 apiece.

Speaking of wiper blades, make sure you keep your washer fluid container full. Jakabcic also recommends you pay close attention so you don't put it in the wrong container. The cap is usually colored blue and it has a drawing of a windshield with wipers on it.

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