Spring promises warmer weather and longer days, so your vehicle can breathe easy now after the winter. Just keep in mind, though, that the change in season means taking stock of what needs work, what needs to be replaced, and what needs to be added.
Here are 10 ways to keep your vehicle in top-performing shape this spring:
1. Check/swap out your tires.
Check your tires, especially if they have taken quite a beating during the winter. If you were using winter tires, it is time to swap them out. Winter tires, with the flexible rubber on their treads, may give you the traction you need on snowy and icy roads, but they will quickly wear out in warmer temperatures.
2. Rotate your tires. (Or put in new ones.)
While you’re checking and swapping out your tires, throw in some much-needed tire rotation as well. Rotating your tires is switching the tires in the back to the front and vice versa. It is an essential aspect of tire maintenance since a vehicle’s weight is not evenly distributed on the tires. Properly rotated tires give you better control on the road and help keep you safe.
3. Wash away all traces of road salt.
Road salt is necessary for keeping motorists safe while navigating slick roads in winter. However, road salt is also corrosive, so if you don’t wash your car thoroughly, it may rust in places, especially in the parts that are not readily visible. Hopefully, you have been constantly washing your car in winter, especially if it’s been out on the road a lot. If not, all the more reason you should give it a thorough wash to remove all traces of road salt.
4. Check for any alignment issues.
Winter brings about an increase in the wear and tear on your suspension, thanks to potholes, icy ruts, curbs concealed by snowbanks, etc. One particular cause for concern is your wheel alignment jolting out of spec. You can check your car’s alignment yourself, or you can take your car to your mechanic for a checkup just before you hit the road in spring.
5. Check your fluids.
Your power steering, brake, transmission, and windshield washer fluids and your coolant all need to be topped up if they’re low. Flush and replace them as recommended in your car’s owner’s manual.
6. Change your oil and filters.
Your engine’s performance depends on how regularly you change your oil and filter. Oil, which picks up impurities as it lubricates and cools the engine, becomes less effective as it ages. Driving with old engine oil compromises your fuel economy, diminishes your engine’s performance, and possibly, severely damages your engine and subsequently shortens its life span.
7. Replace your wiper blades.
Depending on the amount of driving you’ve been doing and where you stored your car in the winter, your wiper blades will likely be worn. Having new wiper blades by the time spring rolls around reduces your risk of getting into accidents caused by poor visibility.
8. Check your battery
Cold temperatures can be brutal on car batteries. By spring, be sure to have your battery tested. See that it’s securely mounted, with its connections strong and rust-free
If your battery is more than five years old, you’ll need to replace it soon.
9. Check your lights.
Having all your lights in perfect working order is a requirement for all vehicles. After being exposed to the cold weather, your lights, especially your external lights, need to be thoroughly checked. Replace any light on the blink and thoroughly clean the others that passed the inspection. Any smudges and streaks can affect the way you use your lights to communicate with fellow motorists what you’re about to do (e.g., turn, stop), so cleaning your lights can be a lifesaver.
10. Check your brakes.
Road conditions during the winter can do a number on your braking system. It makes perfect sense, then, to have your brakes checked by your mechanic as well, including the pads and rotors.
Transition into spring road trips and drives to farmers’ markets and the beach with a car that’s perfectly up to the task. Tick off the items in your spring car maintenance checklist in time for all the driving you need and want to do.
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