When the weather is cold, it's easy to let little automotive maintenance chores fall by the wayside. No one takes joy in topping off their oil in an ice storm. Now that it's going to be a little more enjoyable to be outside, take a little time to check in on your car's well-being in a few basic ways. You can also do your own simple visual inspection for potentially more serious issues for which you might need our help.
- Visually check the engine area. Most likely you don't check the fluids and other routine maintenance tasks that keep your vehicle running smoothly when it would require shivering in the cold and fumbling with freezing dip sticks. It's catch-up time. Check your oil, antifreeze and other fluid levels, and top off where needed. While you're at it, check your battery terminals for corrosion. It can be removed with a combination 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 don't mix. It isn't a bad idea to perform a basic soap-and-water cleaning on the rest of the engine area. Visually inspect all hoses and belts at the same time. Order replacements for any item with cracks, especially belts. Putting off small fixes like these can be disastrous and costly in the long run.
- Kick the tires. Look at the tread of your tires. If there is less than 4/32 of tread depth on any of them, it's time for new ones. Furthermore, check that all of your tires are inflated to their ideal level — and don't forget the spare. Changes in cold and warm weather can affect tire air pressure. In the winter, leaving tires a little bit underinflated provides more traction on icy roads. But once warm weather returns, you will get up to 10 percent more gas mileage if you have completely inflated tires. Additionally, they take longer to lose their tread. It's also a good idea to check your alignment and suspension, and see if your tires need to be rotated. Come in to Christian Brothers Automotive and we can help you out with this step.
- Replace your windshield wiper blades. If your car had to contend with snow this winter, your windshield wipers took a beating from sliding up against it. Since they should be changed at least once a year anyway for maximum safety, now is the best possible time to start that habit.
- Tidy up the interior. Mess tends to pile up during the cold months, when no one wants to spend extra time out in the weather, vacuuming out their car. As you conduct spring cleaning this month, include your car. A quick dusting job and overall tidying up will help you retain pride in your ride. For extra credit, spring for a professional detailing job. You spend a lot of your life in your vehicle; the less chaotic it is, the better you will feel in general.
- Get a good car wash and wax job. Salt residue from icy roads can cause serious harm to vehicles if it's left to sit. And now that the world is a warmer place, it's time to make your car shiny again. At the same time, check that the exterior 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 needs that are outside your experience range, or come across larger fixes that need attention, call Christian Brothers Automotive and schedule an appointment.