Springtime is often associated with house cleaning, but here at Car Care Clinic, we think it’s a great time to focus on your car as well. Routine, seasonal maintenance checks will help your car perform its very best, as you turn the corner from winter to spring.
With the weather warming up, early spring is ideal for getting your car prepared for road trips, more frequent driving or even that epic summer vacation that’s only a few months away.
Here are some specific spring car maintenance tips and tricks worth considering.
Replace Your Windshield Wiper Blades
Thawing, freezing, and scraping over icy windshields can cause wiper blades to warp, bend, and crack. Measure the old blades and check the car’s manual for the correct size before removing the old ones to install new ones. Always test them before you get caught in the rain. Replace blades once in the fall and once in the spring.
Top Off Washer Fluid
Speaking of wipers, Mississippi winters often mean wet/dirty roads and you likely used your washer fluid to keep your windshield clear. Doing 70 on the highway with compromised visibility is not the time to discover you’re out of wiper fluid. If you run low, just pour some in the reservoir until full. Never add plain water during winter as this can cause your reservoir and hoses to burst in extremely cold temperatures.
Check & Refill Fluids
Our ASE certified experts suggest taking a look at coolant, transmission, brake, and power steering fluid levels. “Keep in mind that your power steering, brake, and coolant systems are closed, so low fluid levels may indicate a leak,” they say.
Replace Plugs and Batteries
Your vehicle’s plugs and batteries can be depleted up to 60% faster than when the weather is warmer. The colder it gets, the more these components strain to keep the vehicle going. You can take a look at the parts yourself if you feel comfortable doing so; otherwise, call us to do the job.
Schedule an Oil Change
A change of oil every time the season changes can extend a car’s life by thousands of miles, especially with an older engine. Besides keeping the car running smoothly, oil also prevents contaminants from accumulating in the engine and helps draw heat away from the combustion chamber. It can only do this for so long before it breaks down.
Wash Your Vehicle
This critical auto care step is about more than just looking good for cruising in the spring. It’s also about maintaining resale value. A good cleaning will reveal minor dings and chips in the paint, which are magnets for costly and all-consuming rust. If you’ve traveled through areas during the winter that used road salt, washing should be a priority. Leaving road salt on your vehicle’s exterior for too long can deplete the color and corrode the metal.
Don’t Forget Underneath Your Car
While you’ve got your bucket, soap, and sponge handy, you should give your car’s undercarriage a good cleaning. Just like the exterior of the vehicle, the undercarriage can get a gunky accumulation of grime and road salt.
Give the Car a Good Waxing
Everyone loves that shiny, picture-perfect look of a car after it’s freshly cleaned and buffed. Just like cleaning your car, you should wax it for more than just that glimmering finish. A good wax will protect your vehicle from spring weather that may loosen branches or pelt the car with rain. You should continue to wax every few weeks or so to keep your car safe.
Inspect for Paint Damage
Once your car’s exterior is grime-free, give it a thorough look. Do you see any scratches, chips or other damage? These are dangerous for the long-term health of the vehicle’s paint, not to mention resale value. Like road salt and other debris, this damage can also corrode the paint, so don’t wait to fix any scratches if you find them.
Replace Your Cabin Filter
Spring is prime allergy season, and the cabin filter could contribute to that sneezy and sniffly feeling. This filter can prevent allergens from getting trapped in the car. If you haven’t changed out your cabin filter in a while, you could be breathing in extra pollen, dirt, and dust each time you hop in for a drive.
Check Tire Pressure
Tires lose 1 to 2 pounds of air pressure for every 10 degrees the temperature drops outside. Spring temperatures can sometimes fluctuate, so make sure to check tire pressure regularly.
Change Air Filters Now for When You Use Your Air Conditioner Later
Mississippi spring weather can quickly switch from cold to warm to hot and summer-like within days. So, don’t wait until June to check whether your car’s air conditioner is working. Test it now so you have plenty of time for AC repairs if needed.
Gut the Inside of Your Car
Frigid winter temperatures and rainy days may make you less inclined to make a ton of trips to and from your car. In the interim, stuff accumulates in the backseat and the trunk. On a sunny warm day, go through everything and decide what you should throw out and what should go in the house.
Clean the Inside of the Car, Too
Now that your backseats and trunk are mostly empty, we recommend that you clean any items in there you can. Vacuum the seats and the floors, wash the back windows and dust off your dashboard. We also suggest using the bristles of a paintbrush to dust off the air vents.
Remove Debris from the Engine
Look under the hood for unwanted debris that can slow down the car. Acorns, pine needles, road salt, and crunchy leaves can all prevent rubber gaskets, drainage holes, vents and the engine from working optimally.
Check and Realign All Tires
Between salt, sand, potholes, and the sheer cold of winter, tires take a beating. Swap out your winter tires for all-season ones, and give the tires a look to see whether the tread is too worn. Take a penny and insert Lincoln’s head into the grooves of the tire treads. If the top of Lincoln’s head can still be seen, it’s time to replace the tire.
Check Shocks or Struts
Mississippi winters can be brutal on roads and that means more potholes. Check your vehicle’s shocks or struts for signs of physical damage, such as leaking, rusting, or dents. Also be aware of the warning signs that you may need them replaced: vehicle rolls or sways on turns, front end dives when braking, rear end squats when accelerating, vehicle sits lower in the front or rear, a loss of directional control during sudden stops, and the vehicle bounces or slides sideways on a winding and rough road.
Test Your Lights
For many drivers, the first time they realize they have a light out is when a police officer pulls them over to tell them so. Spring is the perfect time to examine mirrors for cracks, and to have a family member activate headlights, taillights, reverse lights, brake lights, parking lights, fog lights, and turn signals while you do a visual inspection.
Test All Belts for Slackness
If any of your belts are too slack, you will need to contact us to get these tightened or replaced. Cold winter weather often weakens your vehicle’s belts, and if they snap or break while you’re cruising around this spring, a tow truck will be the only way to get your vehicle moving again.
Make Sure Drains Aren’t Clogged
The drains in your vehicle, particularly near the doors and the front cowling, allow fluids to naturally move off of your vehicle. However, if these get clogged with debris, they’ll stop working properly. Water and other fluids can then spill on the dashboard or floors, making for quite a messy trip. If an incident like this goes unchecked and fixed, mold and/or rust can become a major issue.
Get an Inspection
If some of these jobs seem a little out of your comfort zone, or if you think your car may have been damaged during any winter drives, trust the pros. Scheduling an inspection should be at the top of your spring car care to-do list.