October is Fall Car Care Month. With the imminent onset of winter, it’s time to give your car a full system review. This handy checklist can let you know what you should do in order to get the most out of your car. If you’ve only got a short amount of time, follow these in order to maximize your efforts.

Brakes

Heat and increased travel during summer can wear out the rotors, shoes, pads, drums and calipers on your brakes. These are complicated systems. While some people feel comfortable handling this inspection and any repairs themselves, other less-knowledgeable car owners rely on their mechanics to inspect and replace these.

The engine

If your car runs rough on the road or when idling, it’s best to have it checked out by a mechanic. Winter is a time when you are relying more on your car, so it’s worth the investment.

Tires

Check the tires for their tread life and any worn or bald spots. Rotating tires regularly can prevent uneven wearing and increase the life of every tire on your car. Checking for the right tire pressure is important to do every month, but it is even more important as you move into winter.

Battery

Increased battery problems in the winter are actually often the result of the summer heat and extended driving. Corroded battery posts or a bulging case can indicate problems. Professional tools are needed to test the juice in your battery.

Wipers

Your wipers are your key to visibility, and they are easy to replace and relatively inexpensive. You can visually inspect your wipers for pits and cracks or you can check them as they work. If they have good contact and clear water cleanly, you probably won’t need to replace them for the winter.

Fluid levels

Your car contains several different fluids: power steering, brake, oil and windshield wiper, to name a few. Check the levels in your owner’s manual and make sure to top off these before the season. It won’t take long and it won’t be expensive. If you notice any very low levels, it might be time to have a professional check for leaks.

Belts and hoses

Belts and hoses appear in many places in a car. Check for cracks in belts and soft spots in hoses, which often appear near the clams.

Air filter

The best thing about an air filter is that it is easy to change. Air filters keep your car operating at peak efficiency and give you the highest fuel efficiency. As cars idle more in winter, this becomes increasingly important.

Lights

Check the alignment on your headlights to make sure you aren’t binding other drivers and all of your taillights and signals are in good working order. This will make communication easier while on the road and may keep you from getting pulled over and receiving a ticket.

Few things are more important than good car care maintenance. Take the time to inspect, check and fix any problems with your vehicle to ensure you have a safe winter driving season.