The cold weather of winter is heading into the past, which means that it’s time to prepare your vehicle for the heat of summer. When you’re driving in the winter, the weather and road treatments can wreak havoc on your car; salt, snow, and ice can damage everything from the undercarriage and tires to the windshield wipers. Here are six things you can do to make sure your car is ready for spring and summer.
Take Care of Your Undercarriage
Driving during the winter means that you’re driving through slush, snow, and road treatments. Those road treatments include salt, sand, or other things designed to make sure you don’t go skidding across the highway. Of course, while that’s great for keeping you safe, the treatments take a toll on the underside of your car. This stuff can cause corrosion, which leads to rusting, which can create long term damage to your car.
Take your car to a car wash and pay a little extra to get your undercarriage power washed. Alternately, if you have ramps or access to a sturdy car jack, you can spray it out yourself. Don’t use soap or any other chemicals; you’re just looking to remove the residue from the vulnerable underside of your vehicle.
Don’t Neglect The Rest
Once the underside is cleaned, open up the hood and clean the engine block. Use a car washing mitt and warm soapy water to wipe it down. Remove any leaves or other debris that have made their way under your hood.
Take a look at the bottom of your car doors, where grime, salt, and corrosion can get a foothold. Thoroughly clean the inside of your car. Remove your floor mats and wash them outside of your car to get rid of the winter dirt, salt, and sand. Give the upholstery and the rest of the carpet a good vacuuming and follow up with a spray protectant for the dash and exposed vinyl or leather. Lastly, spray the door and window seals with a silicone spray. Don’t forget the trunk seal either. This spray will help keep the seals tight and repel dirt. Make sure you wipe away the excess.
Wiper Blades For The Rain
Inspect your windshield wipers next. You’ve been using them all winter long, so you want to make sure that the blades are still clearing your windshield (and rear window) properly. The lifespan of a windshield wiper blade is 6 months to a year, so now is a perfect time to inspect and replace them if needed. Check your wiper fluid pump and reservoir as well, refilling if needed.
Tires Make Your Car Go ‘Round
If you have winter radials and summer tires, now is the time to change them. If you roll around on year-round tires, make an appointment to have them rotated. Most service companies will rotate your tires when you have your oil changed.
Check the tire pressure as well. A 10 degree Fahrenheit change in ambient temperature will change your tire pressure by about 1 pound per square inch. Check the tire pressure before you drive anywhere, since driving can warm your tires and throw off the reading. Make sure to maintain your tire’s pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Underinflation will cause your tires to wear out and reduce your gas mileage. Overinflation causes uneven wear at the center of the tire, leading to replacement sooner than normally needed.
Battery and Filters
Inspect and clean your battery if needed. Look at the contacts, and if there is a white corrosive build up, clean it. Use a stiff toothbrush and a baking soda/water mixture to remove it. Have your battery checked for free at your local auto parts store to make sure that it’s still able to hold a charge adequately.
While you’re under there, check your air filter. Your air filter should be changed according to your car manufacturer’s recommendation. Chevrolet advises a 45,000 mile change, while Ford recommends a 30,000 mile interval. If you live in dustier areas, or if you drive under severe conditions, you’ll need to change it more often. While a dirty air filter doesn’t have a significant impact on gas mileage anymore, it can still prevent excessive wear and tear on your engine.
Oil and Fluid Changes For the Season
If you live in an area with exceptionally cold winters, you should change your oil’s viscosity. Going to a heavier weight oil during the summer will improve performance. Likewise, if you live in an area with hot summers, you should change your oil weight to maintain performance as well. Of course, while you’re having your oil changed, you should have your filter changed as well.
Inspect your coolant, brake, and steering fluids as well. Make sure that the coolant is a standard 50/50 mix of coolant and water. If it’s been two years, you should have your radiator flushed as well.
Now that you’ve done this easy six point checklist to get your car ready for spring and summer, wait for a beautiful warm spring day and take a cruise. Warm weather is here, it’s time to enjoy it; at least before it gets too hot and everyone is taking shelter in a cozy air conditioned space.