Tips for Spring — Car Maintenance and TLC
It’s spring! The sun is out, the birds are singing, and it’s the perfect time to get your car ready for the warmer weather. We’ve outlined the most important maintenance tasks to get done to ensure your vehicle is working at peak performance for those upcoming road trips and vacations.
Winter Weather Car Troubles
Winter is hard on cars. Freezing temperatures can cause roads to contract and expand, resulting in potholes that are tough on braking systems. Those same temps can drain batteries and make the engine work harder than normal, resulting in prematurely aged parts.
Road salt — a necessity in icy cities like Cleveland — can corrode the bottom of cars and create a buildup of rust on the muffler and exhaust system. And debris, either from the road itself or within ice and snow, can accumulate on your windshield and scrape the glass when you turn on your wiper blades.
All this is to say that your car can come out of the winter season a little worse for wear, so giving it a tune-up will go a long way toward extending its life and keeping it safe and driveable for years to come.
Steps For a Spring Tune-Up
To make sure your car is ready for long summer drives and warmer days, you should consider taking the following steps:
- Swap out your winter tires. Winter tires are designed to give you proper handling and stopping capabilities on icy roads, so once the freezing temps are over, it’s time to swap them out for all-season or warm-weather tires. Otherwise, you risk damaging those expensive tires and reducing your ability to respond to dangerous driving situations, like sudden stops.
- Check the fluid levels. Freezing temps can cause the fluids in your car’s engine to grow slightly thicker, which means the engine has to work harder to move those fluids through its system than it would during warmer months. Because of this, the fluids can burn up more quickly. Check the oil, coolant, brake and power steering fluid levels to make sure everything is still at the right level. If it’s too low, or you notice a change in color or texture due to debris buildup, you should make an appointment to have the fluids flushed and replaced.
- Change the oil. Your car’s oil is so important that we believe it warrants its own extra step. The oil is what makes the engine work properly, and degraded oil can damage the engine due to overheating. Your car’s manufacturer’s guide will have the recommended mileage for changes, but because winter is so hard on oil anyway, it’s probably safest to bring it in for an oil change before you start driving in the summer.
- Test the battery. Batteries take a real beating during the winter because cold temps make it harder for them to produce and keep a charge. Inspect the battery and its cables for any rust or debris buildup, and make a note if it seems like your car is having trouble starting correctly. You can also take your car into a local auto repair shop to have the battery tested and replaced if needed.
- Get your car washed. Road salt is great for safe driving but awful for your car’s exterior. It can be harsh, build up and create rust or pitting on the exposed metal of the underside of the car. Make it a habit to get your car washed at least once a month to keep the body and paint job clean and clear of any harmful debris.
- Replace the windshield wiper blades. Windshield wiper blades are made of rubber, which can dry out and crack after a season’s worth of moisture and fluctuating temperatures. Replacing the blades every six months will ensure your windshield stays clear and maintains visibility during inclement weather, and it will help reduce streaking or scratching that can result from damaged blades.
- Clean the headlights. Over time, your car’s headlights can become foggy and dim from buildup due to poor weather conditions. This can increase the dangers of driving at night or in bad weather, as it will be harder for other drivers to see you on the road. Headlight cleaning kits are available at auto shops if you’d like to DIY, but you can also have them cleaned as part of a car wash service or at a detailer.
- Bring it in for an inspection. Finally, there’s a lot going on in your car that’s hard to see with an untrained eye, including degraded spark plugs, fraying belts or thinning brake pads. Bringing your car into a trusted auto shop is a great opportunity for a professional to give your car a thorough inspection and make sure everything is looking good for the upcoming season. They can recommend any needed repairs or maintenance. Many auto shops offer turn-of-the-season tune-up packages, making it even easier to get everything you need squared away.
The Importance of Seasonal Maintenance
Your car is made up of complex systems that rely on each component to work efficiently and in sync with each other. If one of those pieces isn’t working properly, it puts the entire system at risk of breaking down — costing you time and money.
Regular car maintenance helps you avoid this problem by catching little issues before they turn into big (and expensive) repairs. While routine tasks like oil changes occur year-round, getting your car inspected as the seasons change is a great way to stay on top of other repairs and to address seasonal-specific issues that can crop up (like road salt corrosion.) You’ll feel confident in your car’s performance and not have to worry about being surprised by an unexpected problem that results in a broken-down car.
Winter is tough on cars, but the right maintenance will help address any cold-weather issues and get you ready for a warm summer of road trips and scenic drives. Make an appointment with your favorite auto shop today to help your car shake off those winter blues and get back on the road safely and in style.
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