The hot summer is transitioning into the cool weather of fall and all the great activities the season brings. Folks have begun to look forward to crimson leaves, football games and the coming holiday season. However, fall doesn't just mean caramel apples and cornucopias adorning the dining room table, with the change of the season it is a perfect time to begin winterizing your vehicle. Large or small, your car or truck cannot be expected to carry you where you need to go without a few simple checks. Take note of the following fall car care tips and you will be prepared for driving in the fall and winter.

Being proactive can save you a lot of time, money, trouble and possibly being stranded in the middle of nowhere. Start on the outside of your car, truck or SUV, and examine your tires. Especially noting the tread, you're all season tires may have traveled through spring, and summer, but with the arrival of fall and the looming winter season; their traction may have begun to tire out (pun intended). Perform the penny test, if Abe Lincoln's head on the face of a penny is not covered by the tread; you may want to consider replacing your tires.

Next, check the tire pressure. You can find information regarding recommended pressure per square inch (PSI) in your Owner's Manual, on the tires or on the inside of the driver door panel. If the pressure is below the standard add more air until you reach the recommended level. Proper tire inflation and tread life are a huge factor in vehicle control and safety. Plus they also are a contributing factor in the fuel economy of your vehicle.

Now check your gas cap. The lower humidity of the fall season can cause the seals in the cap to crack and gas pressure may be affected, which in turn will drastically undercut the performance of your vehicle. Should your cap look worn, get it replaced at auto parts store or the local dealer for your particular vehicle brand. You also want to always close your cap tightly after each fill-up, if you don't your check engine light may come on.

Next you'll want to check your windshield and rear view windows (and all your windows for that matter). Look for cracks and chips. Colder weather may cause these to worsen as temperatures drop. Most auto-glass repair services offer resin treatments, rather than replacing the whole glass and a patch will work just fine.

Now check your wipers, if they're dry and cracked, go ahead and replace them. Visibility is crucial at all times, not just in the winter. If your wipers are worn they will not move the water off your windshield when it rains causing a dangerous driving hazard. Fresh wipers will also aid in cleaning your windshield every time they swipe across the windshield.

Now check under the hood; top off washer, brake, and transmission fluids. Make certain you have the right mix of antifreeze and water in your radiator, this way, even if it is very cold, there's no chance of the water freezing and causing your major damage. You can get an inexpensive tool at auto parts stores to make sure you antifreeze is protecting your engine. Be sure you refer to your owner's manual before adding any kind of fluids to make sure that you are using the right ones for your vehicle.

Even if you are not due for an oil change, colder weather can thicken oil viscosity, and do damage to, rather than lubricating, your engine. Your Owner's Manual again will let you know about which colder weather oil is right for your vehicle.

Look over all the belts and hoses; make certain to really look at their surfaces, underneath, and at their sides. If they are frayed, cracked, of worn, consider replacing them. When you are checking your hoses if they seem spongy to the touch you may need to replace them. Replacing a belt or hose is simple when it is planned, however, were they to tear, break, or rupture while on the road, these simple fixes can become a complicated mess.

It never fails when the first really cold snap hits car batteries die in mass. Be sure to have a test run on the life of your battery, cold weather may have a negative effect on its longevity. Many reputable auto parts dealers will test your battery for free. Also, don't forget about your local car dealership as many of them will also test your battery for proper performance.

Routine maintenance on your vehicle will prolong the life of your vehicle, so whether this is your car or truck's first fall or its nineteenth, it won't hurt to check out some of these areas. Doing so will keep your car running at its tip top performance level, and give you the peace of mind to enjoy your fall travels.