Spring is finally here after a long and cold winter. It’s time for road trips and sunshine. Before you jump in your car to hit the road, or just to resume your usual driving habits, you should give it some TLC.
As you would change your clothing with the changing seasons, so too does your car. Follow a spring maintenance check list to ensure your car is ready for warmer weather.
Winter can cause more damage to your vehicle than you think. Potholes are caused by the expansion and contraction of the ground due to frozen rain and snow. They start to appear in winter and continue through spring. Potholes can be of varying sizes but are notoriously bad for tires and alignment. Winter is not only about icy roads. The salt and sand used to keep drivers on the road can corrode the seals in your undercarriage, causing problems with your suspension.
To ensure your safety this spring and summer, it’s best to be proactive. Here is a checklist for your car tune-up that will keep your vehicle in top condition throughout the changing seasons.
Tires, rims. You’ve probably hit a pothole before and seen the damage it can do to your tires and wheels. Many of the immediate effects, such as bent rims or a hole in a tire, are obvious. However, minor damage may not be apparent. It’s the perfect time to have your rims checked and to switch out your winter tires with spring and summer ones. Have your winter tires checked for signs of damage, such as cracks or tread wear.
Wiper blades. You may overlook them until the time comes when you really need them. Wiper blades are affected by ice, rain, freezing temperatures, and snow. They’re essential for seeing the road clearly and should be ready to handle spring showers. Check and replace your wiper blades so that you can clearly see the road in front of you.
Brakes, shocks. Of course, brakes play a major role in your driving experience. They may have been put to the test in winter driving conditions. Winter conditions can cause brakes to wear out because drivers tend to “ride the brakes” more to prevent sliding. De-icers and salts used on roads during winter also contribute to brake wear. Check your brakes thoroughly and your shocks/struts as well. Worn shocks can make a huge difference to how your car brakes.
Battery. Have your mechanic inspect your battery to ensure it is in good condition for warmer weather. Battery life can last between five and seven years, depending on how much you drive.
Car filters. Clean air filters can make a huge difference to the performance of your engine. Your car also has a cabin air filter which can have an impact on the cooling and defrosting system of your car. This is often overlooked but can have a big impact on your comfort.
Check and/or replace your vehicle’s engine fluids. Now is the best time to do so. Check the engine oil, brake fluids, transmission fluids and windshield washer fluid. Also, check antifreeze/coolant and power steering fluid. Having the correct amount of coolant will prevent your car from heating up as the weather warms. To ensure that your car runs at its best, you should change your oil when the seasons change. This is especially true of older vehicles. Ask your mechanic if an oil change should be performed.
Hoses and belts. The harsh weather conditions can shorten the life expectancy of your hoses and car belts. So even though they may have gotten you through winter, they might not be ready for spring. Check hoses for cracks, leaks and fraying.
Keep Your Car In Shape for Spring
You can do some spring maintenance tasks yourself, in addition to having a mechanic look under the hood and under the vehicle.
- Wash your car thoroughly. All that road salt and de-icing solution can do a lot of damage to the undercarriage and paint. Make sure to wash your car, wheels and tires, thoroughly. Rinse off any winter residue. Then, give it a good waxing to protect the paint.
- Look for damage. Look for small chips or scratches while you wash your car. You can seal the scratch with a small amount of clear nail polish. This will prevent it from getting bigger.
- Clear out your glove compartment. It’s time to get ready for spring. Spoiler alert! You won’t need those napkins and sporks you’ve been collecting from drive-thrus over the winter. Just keep the essentials, like your insurance proof and registration, tire pressure gauge, and owner’s manual.
- Check the contents of your emergency supply kit. If water is part of it (and you should! This is the perfect time to replace it with fresh water. Change out all your winter emergency items. Trade in the extra coat and gloves in exchange for a raincoat and ensure that your flashlight’s batteries are working properly. You can put the sand/kitty-litter back in your garage until next winter.
Spring tune-ups = Safety
You’ll be ready to drive safely when you have your car in good condition for spring. You’ll have more peace of mind knowing that everything in your car is working properly, including the wipers and brakes. This is a good reason to take a road trip for your summer holiday.