Your car has battled snow, ice, salt and potholes for months on end. Now that winter’s in the rear view mirror, certain aspects of your car need a little more TLC than others.
Spring car maintenance: 8 things to check
- Tires: In the snow belt, now is the time to swap your snow tires for your all-season tires. If you kept your all-season tires on all winter, you’ll want to have them rotated. That’s because the drive wheels get worn down faster in all conditions, but especially in harsh winter conditions. By having them regularly rotated (about every 5,000 to 7,500 miles although your vehicle owner’s manual will tell you what is recommended for your car), they will more evenly distribute the wear-and-tear and extend the life of your tires. Also, if you’re keeping your all-season tires on all year, make sure to check the tire pressure. Cold air lowers tire pressure, which reduces the traction your tires have with the road. The tire pressure may have improved automatically when the weather warmed up, but it’s still best to check. (If one tire is particularly low, it could mean there’s a puncture or leak.)
- Windshield wiper blades: Your wiper blades were probably working overtime removing snow and slush off your windshield. That, along with the fact that cold temperatures wear down blades, means you’ll want to inspect them in the spring. Clean the rubber insert with a lint free rag and window cleaner and replace them if they look worn, squeak or don’t completely clear water off your windshield. Wipers survive winter, but not your windshield?
- Body of the car: The salt used on winter roads can corrode your car, which can cause rust to form. This is especially true when it comes to the car’s underbody. Get things under control by taking your car to a car wash that has high-pressure regular and under-sprays. It will clear off the salt, which will let you inspect your car for any small pits and bubbles that could be the start of a rust spot. Definitely take your car to a shop if you notice the beginnings of a rust spot. Before next winter, you might also want to stop back to have your car pre-treated with an oil solution under-spray that will help resist winter road salt damage.
- Brakes: Brakes work harder in the winter, so it’s a good idea to give a close listen to them. If they make any strange noises, take your car to a pro ASAP. You might also consider having your brake pads and drums checked, especially if your car is on the higher end of the mileage spectrum. It’s easy to become used to the feel of worn brakes.
- Fluids: It’s important to check your car’s fluid levels since cars tend to use more fluids in the winter. Have a pro check your brake, oil, windshield, coolant, battery and transmission fluid levels. Also ask him or her to test your battery’s charge since extremely cold temperatures can take a toll on batteries. (Some auto supply stores will test your battery for free – call ones in your area to find out of they offer complimentary service.)
- Engine air filter: A clean engine air filter helps the engine take in fresh, clean air. If it’s clogged, the engine has to work harder. That can lower your fuel economy, so make sure to replace your engine air filter about every 15,000 miles.
- Interior of car: Now is the time to wash the floor liners, vacuum and clean out any trash that’s accumulated. You might also consider applying a protective dressing to the interior vinyl to give it a barrier against the sunshine-filled days ahead.
- Alignment: Potholes can knock your car out of alignment. If your car pulls in one direction instead of maintaining a straight path, it could be out of alignment. Have a pro check its alignment if that’s the case.