When it's cold outside, it's easy to let little automotive maintenance tasks lapse. No one takes joy in topping off their oil in an ice storm. Now that the weather is about to give us all a reprieve, take a little time to check in on your car's wellness in a few basic ways. You can also do your own simple visual inspection for potentially larger issues for which you might need our help.
- Fill up your fluids. No one appreciates topping off their fluids in the freezing cold, 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 terminals for battery acid residue. It can be cleaned off with a mixture of water and baking soda, and a stiff brush. If you don't have baking soda handy, 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 anything that has cracks, especially belts. Prevention is cheaper and safer than waiting for a moving part to break on the road.
- Kick the tires. Look at your tire tread. If there is less than 4/32 of tread depth on any of them, it's time for replacements. Additionally, make sure all of your tires are inflated to their optimal 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 can give you more traction on icy roads. But when warm weather returns, you will get up to 10 percent more fuel efficiency if you have completely 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 can help you out with this step.
- Change your windshield wipers. If your automobile 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 when you should start that rotation.
- Tidy up the interior. Clutter tends to stack up during the cold months, when you would rather run from your vehicle to your front door than tote soda cups and gum wrappers with you. As you conduct spring cleaning this month, include your vehicle. A once-over dusting job and overall tidying up will help you maintain pride in your ride. For extra credit, pay for a professional detailing service. You spend a great deal of time in your car; the more orderly 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 on long-term. And now that the sun will be coming out more, it's time to restore the shine to your vehicle. At the same time, make sure 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 run into maintenance needs that are outside your expertise, or detect larger fixes that need attention, call Christian Brothers Automotive and schedule an appointment.