Gear Up For Fall Driving

9 simple checks you (or your Ford Service technician) can do in mere minutes

Leaves are turning, pumpkin spice lattes are brewing and the air is crisp. Now’s the perfect time for an autumn drive. But first, make sure your car is prepared for inclement weather, diminished daylight and increased road grime by following this vehicle check guide to seasonal automotive fitness.

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Always make sure bulbs are working and headlights are adjusted to proper height and angle before taking the vehicle out on the road.


  • A tire must be replaced when it is worn down to 3/32 of an inch. You can measure your remaining tread depth by inserting a penny in the grooves of the tire. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, then you have more than 3/32 of an inch of tread remaining.
  • For a more in-depth check, look for your tire’s built-in treadwear indicators, which will appear level with the tread when it’s time to replace them. If you are not comfortable performing this check, go to your local Ford Dealer Service Center to get your treadwear indicators examined by a service technician.
  • If you need to replace your tires, use the Ford Service Tire Finder to get the right match.

Tire pressure

  • Remove the cap from the valve and firmly press the tire gauge onto the valve to measure the pressure. It should match the number on the tire label located on the edge of the driver’s door. Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold, not after driving.
  • Add air if the pressure is low.
  • Visually inspect the tire treads and sidewalls for gouges, cuts or bulges. Check that there are no nails or other objects embedded in the tire that could cause an air leak. For more detailed instructions on checking tires and tire pressure, read this article.

Maintaining tire pressure is one easy way to make sure you’re optimizing your fuel economy. For more fuel-saving tips, check out this article or watch this video.

You should have your brakes inspected regularly to avoid costly rotor damage. With The Works™ Vehicle Checkup from Ford Service, you can have your brakes rated on how close you are to needing replacements.

Regular inspection can help you identify when the brake pads require replacement before the rotors get damaged. You can identify rotor damage if you hear high-pitched squeals or scratching, if your car pulls or vibrates when braking or if your pedal is mushy or overactive when pressed. If you experience these tell-tale signs, then you should definitely have your brakes checked by your local Ford Dealer Service Center, which also offers a Lifetime Brake Pad guarantee* for eligible, recently purchased Motorcraft® brake pads.

To learn more about your brakes and how and when to get them serviced, watch this video. To learn and share tips with enthusiasts who enjoy getting under the hood, like the FordParts Facebook page. Follow @FordService on Twitter for more maintenance tips, advice and special offers from your Ford Dealer.

* Eligible Motorcraft brake pads purchased after July 1, 2014. Nontransferable. Requires completion of any other necessary brake service such as brake rotor service. Replacement Motorcraft brake pads must be installed by a Ford Dealership or Quick Lane® technician to be eligible. Labor costs not included. Restrictions and exclusions apply. See Service Advisor for details. Motorcraft® is a registered trademark of Ford Motor Company.

Check wiper blades

Do this quick check every six months or more depending on use:

  • Lift the wiper arm to check for damage, and make sure the blades are clean.
  • Spray your windshield, switch the wipers on, and check to see if they remove the moisture evenly, without smearing. If they don’t, you’ll need to replace them.

Replace wiper blades

  • Lift the wiper arm away from the windshield, depress the tab that holds the blade in place, and slide off the blade. Wiper blades vary greatly, so make sure the replacement matches the type, size and brand. We recommend Motorcraft® brand wiper blades.
  • Slide on the new wiper blade, and make sure it clicks into place by pulling tightly on the arm.
  • For more in-depth instructions on how to change your wiper blades, read this article.

Check and add washer fluid

  • Pop the hood and locate the windshield washer fluid reservoir. It’s usually a white, translucent container with a windshield/water symbol on the cap.
  • Add Motorcraft® windshield washer fluid until it hits the line.

To learn how to improve wiper blade performance and when to replace your blades or washer fluid, watch this video.


While your battery may look in good physical condition externally, it’s useful life may be drawing to an end. So have your battery checked at your local Ford Dealer Service Center. Testing your battery in conjunction with an oil change only takes a couple minutes, and will identify the battery’s condition even if it seems to be working well. The technicians have the diagnostic equipment that can tell whether your battery is “in the red” or on its last legs. If your battery tests poorly, you can get it conveniently replaced in the service bay with a new Motorcraft® battery and great warranty protection that includes free towing.

If you turn on the heat, but no hot air comes out, try the following:

  • With the engine off, lift the hood and locate the coolant reservoir, which is usually a translucent white tank marked with a low-to-high range.
  • If the coolant level is low, loosen the cap on the tank (making sure the engine and coolant are cool to touch), wait for pressure to be released, and fill.
  • Refer to the owner’s manual to find the vehicle’s correct Motorcraft® engine coolant. Check out this article for information about adding coolant. To learn more about Motorcraft® products, check out and subscribe to the Motorcraft® YouTube page.
  • If you are experiencing problems with your defrosters, replacing your cabin air filter could solve them (follow the next step to learn how). If you are experiencing any other heating system problems, go to your local Ford Dealer Service Center for assistance.

Did you know your car has multiple filters including a cabin air filter, an engine air filter and a fuel filter? Take a look at this article to learn more about your car’s filters. You can easily check and replace your cabin filter by following these steps:

  • In most cars, the cabin filter is located behind the glove compartment, which should pop out easily by the depressing the inner plastic tabs.
  • If the cabin filter is dirty, replace it with the appropriate Motorcraft® cabin filter. It should be replaced every 15,000 miles or once a year; if you suffer from allergies or respiratory problems, or if you drive on dirt roads or in dusty, polluted conditions, you may need to do this more often.
  • If you are not comfortable doing this, your local Ford Dealer Service Center can do it for you.

Jumper cables

Chemical reactions in your battery work more slowly when the battery is cold, meaning the starter motor has less energy to work. That causes the engine to crank more slowly. Have jumper cables ready in case your battery dies. Learn how to use them by reading this article.

Ice scraper

Don’t rely on the defroster to clear frost from the windshield. Use an ice scraper to make sure your view is unobstructed.

Emergency blankets

If your engine stops working, then your heater will too. Make sure you can keep warm by stocking your car with a few emergency blankets.


Glare is often cited as the cause of traffic accidents. The right pair of polarized or variable tint sunglasses can help you block glare from snow or puddles and the colder months’ low sun.

Car cover

Protect your car’s exterior from snow and finish-staining leaves.

When you find yourself in a bind, you’ll want to know how to call for help. Learn how to set up the SYNC® system’s 911 Assist® or how to pair your phone with SYNC®.


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