Now that we’re coming into the last stretch of a long and extremely harsh winter, it’s time to start thinking about getting your car prepared for the arrival of spring. Winter driving wreaks havoc on cars with more idling time for your vehicles and extended warm up times. Those rutted roads pound on the suspension system and possibly damage the steering components. The exhaust system has taken a beating, doesn’t heat up and moisture have taken its toll from the inside out. Brakes may drag and tires have been abused from hazardous road conditions. Slush, ice and snow have encrusted the underside of your car and the interior isn’t looking or smelling any better either.
Just like your house needs a spring cleaning, your car needs to have a spring tune-up too. Tune-up can mean many different things to people, but if you take your car in once the weather begins to break, you can prevent a domino effect of car malfunctions. You may also want to consider taking care of any dings or dents that might have occurred during the winter months. Maybe you had a minor fender bender with another vehicle or miscalculation of a neighboring lamppost. By taking some time now to get things rolling for spring’s full arrival, your car will be in good shape for the upcoming months. Cars are sophisticated machines these days, so an ounce of prevention now can save you costly repairs and headaches later on.
Spring Check List:
Tires: Make sure all of your tires are the correct pressure because temperature changes affect tire pressure. Low pressure can cause a blowout and diminish your ability to handle the car properly. Improperly inflated tires can cost you more in gas because it can reduce the tire’s life and affects your miles per gallon, so inflate your tires properly. Look for any cuts or bulges and get the problem corrected. It’s a good idea to have the tires rotated during the spring inspection. If the tires show any uneven wear, this may indicate that a wheel alignment is needed as well.
Fluids: Have all of your fluids checked since low fluids can cause your car to halt. There are several fluids that require your attentions such as the engine oil, power steering fluid, brake and transmissions fluids. Your windshield fluid needs a look at too. Ensure that the radiator and gas caps are sealed properly and the gaskets inside aren’t brittle. Fluid checks are relatively simple and typically inexpensive, but a vehicle’s function is very dependent upon them.
Oil change & filters: The winter’s salt and dirt can clog up the engine’s lubrication system, so have your oil and oil filter changed coming into spring. It is the best way to keep your car’s engine running trouble free. Changing the oil and filter helps your engine perform at peak performance, reduces fuel consumption and prevents severe engine damage. Many car owners are switching to synthetic oil for optimum performance and a lesser need to change the oil quite so often, but check your owner’s manual first.
Battery: You car’s battery got a workout during the harsh winter months and it may have become weakened. Even though it survived the winter, it does not mean that you car’s battery is road-worthy. Have your technician test the battery’s strength and make sure all connections are tight and free from corrosion and leaking cells.
Hoses, belts and blades: Winter can cause deterioration through added use and take a toll on these items, but all of them are essential for reliable operation of your car. During your spring tune-up, have the electrical, cooling and climate control system evaluated to make sure they are tight. Look for any leaks, cracks, bulges or worn out parts. If your wiper blades are showing smears or leaving streaks, replace them with a new set.
Air Conditioning: It goes without saying that you should make sure that your AC is tested and working properly before the warmer weather begins.
Clean House: It’s time to give your car a thorough cleaning by getting rid of all the salt and sand that gets lodged in the undercarriage and getting the car washed. Shampoo the rugs and upholstery seats as well as treating the dashboard. If you have leather seats, clean them down with a good leather cleaner and protectant. If you feel like splurging, you can have your car professionally detailed as part of your spring ritual.