Inevitably, winter will end its temporary reign and the world will wake up again. The change of seasons is an excellent reminder to address some basic car maintenance issues you may have let lapse over the cold months.
- Visually check the engine area. Nobody likes topping off their fluids in icy temperatures, so they fall behind on periodic checks. 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 cables for battery acid residue. It can be removed with a mix 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 take some soap and water to the remainder of the engine area. Check belts and hoses too. Replace anything that has cracks, especially belts. Prevention is cheaper and safer than waiting for a moving part to break on the road.
- Inspect your tires. Gauge your tire tread. If there is less than 4/32 of tread depth on any of them, buy replacements. Furthermore, check that all of your tires are inflated to their maximum 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 grip on icy roads. But when warm weather returns, you will get up to 10 percent more gas mileage if you have completely inflated tires. Additionally, they take longer to wear out. You should also 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.
- Change your windshield wiper blades. If you reside in or traveled through an area with icy winter weather, your windshield wipers took a beating from sliding up against it. Since they should be changed at least once a year anyway for maximum efficacy, now is the best possible time to start that rotation.
- Clean up the interior. Trash tends to pile up during the cold months, when you would rather sprint from your car to your house than tote soda cans and candy wrappers with you. If you'll be spring cleaning this month, don't forget your vehicle. A once-over vacuuming job and general tidying up go a long way toward maintaining pride in your ride. For extra credit, spring for a professional detailing job. You spend a great deal of your life in your car; the cleaner your view from the driver's seat, the better you will feel overall.
- Wash and wax your car. Salt residue from icy roads can cause serious harm to vehicles if it's left to sit. And now that the sun will be coming out more, you might as well make your vehicle shiny again. While you're at it, check that the exterior lights are all in working order, 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 run into maintenance needs that are outside your experience range, or come across bigger fixes that need tending, call Christian Brothers Automotive and talk to one of our skilled technicians.