- Visually inspect the engine area. Chances are you don't check the fluids and other routine maintenance tasks that keep your vehicle running well when it would require standing outside in the freezing air and fumbling with freezing lids. Now is the time to get back into the habit. Check your oil, brake and other fluid levels, and top off where needed. While you're at it, check your battery terminals for corrosion. It can be cleaned off with a mixture of water and baking soda, and a stiff brush. If you don't have baking soda on hand, Coca-Cola does a decent job. Be careful; acid and skin are a painful combination. It isn't a bad idea to perform a basic soap-and-water cleaning on the remainder of the engine area. Check hoses and belts too. Replace any item that has cracks, especially belts. Putting off small fixes like these can be dangerous and spendy in the long run.
- Kick the tires. Gauge the tread of your tires. If there is less than 4/32 of tread depth on any of them, buy new ones. In addition, make sure all of your tires are inflated to their optimal level — and don't forget the spare. Changes in temperature can affect tire air pressure. In the winter, leaving tires a little bit underinflated can give you more traction on snowy roads. But when warm weather returns, you will get noticeably more fuel efficiency if you have fully inflated tires. As if that weren't enough, they take longer to lose their tread. You should also check your alignment and suspension, and see if your tires need to be rotated. Visit us at Christian Brothers Automotive and we'll get you taken care of.
- Replace your windshield wiper blades. If your car had to deal with ice this winter, your windshield wipers took a shredding from sliding up against it. Since they should be changed at least once a year anyway for maximum effectiveness, now is the best possible time to start that rotation.
- Clean up the interior. Clutter tends to stack up during the cold months, when you would rather run from your vehicle to your house than pack soda cups and candy wrappers with you. If you'll be spring cleaning this month, don't forget your car. A quick vacuuming job and general tidying up will help you maintain pride in your ride. Better yet, pay for a professional detailing service. You spend a great deal of time in your car; the cleaner it is, the better you will feel overall.
- Get a good car wash and wax job. Leftover salt splash from icy roads can do major damage to vehicles if it's left to sit. And now that the big storms are over, it's time to make your vehicle shiny again. While you're at it, check that the head and tail lights are all functioning properly, and that none of their compartments have clouded over.
With just a little maintenance, it will feel like your dirty old car is new again! If you find maintenance tasks that are outside your experience range, or detect larger fixes that need tending, call Christian Brothers Automotive and talk to one of our skilled technicians.