Following a rough winter driving season, spring is a great time to give your car a little extra attention. The warmer weather makes it much more enjoyable to inspect the outside of your vehicle and, if necessary, take care of a few basic maintenance items, too.
Following months of freezing temperatures, snow and ice, chances are pretty good that something – mechanical, structural, electrical - somewhere on your vehicle took a beating last winter and should be replaced.
Not only will performing a little proactive auto maintenance this spring keep you safer, it can also help you avoid having to fix a potentially larger, more costly problem down the road.
“Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The majority of owners could save money by being proactive in the maintenance of their vehicles.”
Here are some of the key components of an effective spring car care regimen.
Mechanical / Engine
An inspection of all things mechanical on your car will help you identify places where time, wear, water, dirt, and other road debris have damaged different parts of your vehicle. Often, all that is needed is a quick wipe or spray with a lubricant to keep these items in good working order for the life of your vehicle.
Start with opening the hood and looking at the engine area. Remove any leaves, pine needles or acorns that may be clogging vents, drainage holes, or rubber gaskets.
Next, inspect hoses and belts for signs of wear. This may include any noticeable cracks or frayed material along the edge of the belts. As you are inspecting the engine compartment, also look for any signs of rust or corrosion on bolts, springs, and latches. Now would be a great time to spray a little lubricating oil on the hood latch and spring mechanism, too!
If you are able, locate the engine air filter housing and remove the filter for inspection. A dirty filter should be replaced immediately as a clogged filter will reduce fuel efficiency. Planning to change the air filter each spring is simple, easy-to-remember car care job that can keep your engine running smoothly all summer long.
Apart from the engine area, a few other important places to inspect on the vehicle are wheels and tires, doors and trunk, or rear hatch
Mechanical – Tires
If you switched to winter tires, be sure to switch back as soon as the threat of snow and ice is over. Winter tires are made of a special type of rubber compound that keeps them more pliable and “grippy” in cold weather. As a result, when temperatures are not cold, they tend to wear out much faster than an all-season tire. A timely switch will improve the life of the winter tire and give you better performance next season.
Extreme temperature variations throughout the winter season can make tire pressure fluctuate. Inspect the pressure of all four tires, including the spare, and adjust as necessary. Now would also be a good time to check the tire tread depth with a simple “Penny Test” measuring the tread depth with the image of Lincoln’s head. Inspect each tire for signs of uneven wear along the inner, outer or middle of the tire
Uneven tire wear can often be a sign of an improper alignment or suspension issue and can dramatically reduce the effective life of the tire. All VIP Tires & Service Centers offer fast, easy and free tire quotes at all of our 56 New England locations and online here.
Mechanical – Door seals and hinges.
Carefully inspect all of the hinges and rubber weather stripping and clean out any buildup of dirt and sand. These gaskets form a weather and water tight seal around the interior of the vehicle and should also be coated with a silicone based cleaner/lubricant at least once a year.
While you are at it, lubricate all door hinges, including the ones that lift your trunk lid or rear hatch back. Lastly, using the small plastic ‘straw’ that comes with many aerosol type lubricants – such as WD-40 – spray a little inside the keyhole of each door. This will help prevent rust and corrosion from building up inside the door lock, and keep the manual key/lock assembly in good working order should the electric ‘keyless’ entry system fail.
Exterior Car Care – Wash & Wax
No spring car care effort would be complete without including a thorough washing and waxing of the exterior. To avoid a spotty finish or harming the protective coating on your vehicle, always use cleaning products that are designed specifically for automobiles.
When washing your car at home, be sure to pay close attention to the undercarriage. If you prefer to bring your vehicle to a carwash, this would be a great time to splurge and include an undercarriage spray wash to the service.
Over the course of the winter, road sand and salt collects anywhere it finds a flat surface. To make matters worse, roads are often coated with a liquid binder that helps keep the salt and sand in place, improving its effectiveness on the road.
Unfortunately for drivers, this means that some of the road salt will also stick to their vehicles. If it’s not washed off, it will begin to corrode whatever it has attached too. This is another reason why applying a high quality wax to the exterior of your vehicle is so important – it provides an extra layer of protection.
Final thoughts – Keep it clean.
As you throw open the windows and doors of your home this spring, consider spending a little time cleaning your vehicle. As any lovesick little boy or girl will tell you, a little attention can go a long way.
Call or stop in the VIP store nearest you – open 7 days a week .