The air begins to carry an aroma of green things budding to life. You think about what to put in your garden this year, and transplanting overgrown house plants to larger pots with some fresh soil.  You are going to clean out the garage and pack up winter quilts and snow boots. While the warmer temperatures make you hum and put a little dance in your step, your car needs some help to catch Spring Fever and start its own dance. Add a car check up to your spring cleanup.

FlowersEvery winter cold temperatures, snow, ice, and road salt strain tires, brakes and suspensions. Several areas of your vehicle can suffer from wear and strain. Rocks on the road fly up and chip your windshield. Wipers are strained from  removing snow and condensation so we can see the road when we are driving. Suspension and wheel alignment might be off. Several items can be addressed yourself, but a skilled repair technician  can help uncover winter damage, pinpoint specific problems, and enact the needed maintenance and repair, sending you and your car happily off to Spring activities. It is a good idea to have your engine analyzed by your auto repair company to address what components of your vehicle would benefit from servicing now that Winter conditions are ending.

A good place to start with Spring cleaning your vehicle is to thoroughly wash it. Road salts can eat away or corrode the metal of your vehicle, as well as the paint. A thorough cleaning at a car wash will remove whatever traces of minerals remain on your vehicle. Be sure and completely clean your car’s  undercarriage to remove salt and any road debris, like pebbles and perhaps even bits of garbage blown in by snow and wind. The interior will benefit by sweeping away dirt and debris carried in by muddy boots Don’t forget to remove the frozen coffee cups under the seats. A good interior vacuuming will further remove dirt and dust, making your lungs breathe easier and your car smell better.

Next, examine your windshield wipers. Check them for wears and cracks. The more work they had to do over the winter, the more worn down they will be. Inspect your wipers for looseness, that is are they coming apart? Is the rubber cracked or worn away? When you turn them on, do they make a fluid and smooth motion, uniformly cleaning your windshield? If not, it is a good idea to replace them. Remember to check any side or rear wiper blades, and don’t forget to check the level on your windshield washer fluid as well.

The next item to address is your tires. If you use snow tires, you will probably want to get them switched out. In any event, you might want to have your tires rotated to encourage uniform wear on them. Cold air effects air pressure differently than hot or warm air, reducing it. With warmer temperatures, you will need to inflate your tires a bit more. In warmer months, inflate tires to their recommended pressure. Under-inflated tires reduce fuel economy, lead to premature tire failure, and are a safety hazard. The potential for tire failure and blow outs increases greatly when the tire is under-inflated. This is a good time to also check your tires for any damage caused by potholes, sharp objects, or ice chunks. Remember to check the air pressure in your spare tire as well. To find the right air pressure for your vehicle, check the  owner’s manual or look inside the driver’s side door frame. Use a pressure gauge to make sure your tires are at the right level.

volkswagonBumpy roads can thrown alignment out, so this is something to look at as well. Potholes are hard on  shocks and struts. Icy, uneven roads  and tough Winter driving conditions can put your wheels out of alignment. Having your cars suspension and wheel alignment checked after a season of hard weather can address any concerns, and your auto repair company can make any needed corrections, putting you safely back on the road.

Another area of car Spring cleaning you need to address is your fluid levels. There are many to check, but don’t skip any of them. These are:

  • Antifreeze/coolant: Make sure the the coolant used meets the specs in your owners manual, and that it is to the required level. Have a mechanic flush and refill the coolant system every other year. An engine that runs too hot or too cold will suffer.

  • Engine Oil: Check oil level. If it is gritty and slimy, it is probably time for an oil change. Consult with your auto repair shop about the best oil weight for your vehicle, by season. Regular oil changes prevent engine wear and can even improve gas efficiency.

  • Transmission Fluid: Check the level, making sure it is where it needs to be. Also  make sure you are using the correct type of transmission fluid for your vehicle. Watch for leaks, or smoking (burnt fluid), these can cause your transmission to fail.

  • Power Steering Fluid: Check power steering fluid level. If the level is too low, you can damage your power steering system.

  • Brake Fluid: Check levels. A brake fluid flush is usually recommended once a year.  Getting it done now, with your car Spring cleaning, is a good idea.

Other items that are good to check, or have your auto technician go over. include air filters, your car battery, battery plugs and wires, belts and hoses, and your brakes. Spring is the perfect time to be sweet to your car, and give it the care it needs to safely and efficiently carry you into warmer weather. Let it benefit from a good Spring Cleaning.