How to Prepare Your Old Car for Fall in Oakland, CA

Do you have an old or classic car? Keeping it in great shape requires specialized techniques, including understanding how to prepare it for each season.

Fortunately, fall in Oakland is usually fairly mild, with temperatures typically staying in the 50s and 60s. While you don't have to worry too much about wild weather extremes here in the Sunny Side of the Bay, the temperatures do drop low enough to require some special types of car care.

Here are the key ways to prepare your old car for fall in Oakland, California:

Change the Oil

Did you know that the type of oil used in your car depends on the season? In the summer, thicker oils work best, but you'll want to use something thinner in fall and winter. As the weather cools, oil can thicken, so using a thin oil helps prevent problems. While Oakland typically doesn't get cold enough for this to be a significant issue, it's still an easy way to help extend the life of your car.

Should you use synthetic or conventional oil in an older car? It's a controversial issue. On the one hand, synthetic oils contain additives to help reduce engine temperature fluctuations and improve lubrication. However, older cars often have loose seals and gaskets. Synthetic oil can remove some of the "sludge" that helps hold these components in place.

If you decide to use synthetic oil in your older car, look for the type formulated explicitly for vehicles with many miles.

Keep the Tank Full of Gas

Some old cars aren't driven regularly, which can result in gasoline-related issues. Regular gasoline can go bad after three to six months. If your vehicle contains about a gallon or less of old gas, filling the tank with new gasoline should fix the issue, as the old gas will blend into the new. Otherwise, you'll need to siphon out the old gas and replace it.

Bad gas has a dark, muddy appearance along with a sour smell. Signs the gas in your car is too old include losing power when accelerating, difficulty starting, and a rough noise when idling.

Do you keep your car in storage? Add fresh fuel and then follow up with a fuel stabilizer. It's a petroleum-based compound that slows down oxidation and evaporation. Specifics vary by brand and type, but fuel stabilizers can keep the fuel functional for one to three years.  

Finally, don't trust your gas gauge. Sediment and other debris can form in the gas tanks of older cars which can affect the accuracy of the dashboard display. Note the amount of gas you put in and the miles driven to determine the accuracy of the gauge.  

Make Sure Heat Works

Although Oakland doesn't typically reach bone-chilling temperatures in the fall, you'll still likely want to use your heater on occasion. If the car's heater isn't keeping you warm, here's what to check:

  • Radiator Fluid – When the car is cold, check the amount of radiator fluid in the reservoir. Low fluid levels are a common reason why a car's heater fails to work correctly.
  • Fan – Air should flow through the vents underneath the vehicle's glove compartment. If you don't feel any air or can only detect a small stream, the fan vents might not be working correctly.

Always check your car's heating system at the start of fall or earlier, so you have plenty of time to fix any problems before the temperature drops.

Check Tires

Fall is an excellent time to check on the condition of your tires. Inspect the following elements:

  • Tread – Insert a penny upside down into the tread. If you can see Lincoln's entire head, the tread is too worn, and you'll need new tires.
  • Condition – Look for signs of tears and signs of wear, including bulging and cuts.
  • Tire Pressure – The manufacturer's recommendations are on a placard found on the doorjamb of the driver's side door.  

Cold weather causes tire pressure to drop, reducing gas mileage and increasing your risk of a blow-out. Fortunately, most gas stations provide free air compressors you can use. Check your air pressure after every significant drop in temperature.

Even if your tires are in good shape, fall is usually an excellent time to have them rotated to prevent uneven wear.  

Final Thoughts

Oakland's relatively mild fall and winter seasons typically don't pose serious problems for most older cars. However, following the strategies above can help keep your vehicle in great shape and help you stay comfortable behind the wheel.

Of course, not all older cars are worth the trouble to maintain. If you'd prefer to junk your car, our Oakland junk cars service is an easy way to put some money in your pocket.

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