Spring is a time of renewal and refreshment for so many aspects of our lives and households. It stands to reason that this season of new growth and great weather can also mark an ideal occasion to start cleaning out your car and taking care of any upkeep it may need. For those living in areas hit hard by the ravages of winter, spring auto maintenance will be particularly important. But, it can be beneficial to all motorists.
Where should you begin? The specifics will depend on your car's condition, but we've got a few suggestions regarding typical areas of concern:
Weather-related issues and damage
While late March is finally starting to resemble the "out like a lamb" part of the month that's typically promised, the wear and tear of snow and slush is fresh in many of our minds.
According to the contractors’ and homeowners’ information website Angie's List, leftover salt is perhaps the most unpleasant vestige of winter. If it's collected on and around the undercarriage, salt can cause serious rust unless it's addressed immediately, most optimally by a professional at a car wash.
Additionally, national news source CBS notes that brakes, batteries and alternators, hoses under the hood and timing belts can also accumulate significant damage from driving in the rough winter. If you don't have personal auto repair experience, it'll be best to take the car in to have these items checked and serviced.
Preparing for summer
Now that you'll be seeing warmer temperatures in spring and summer, it's also time to check up on the mechanisms that keep the engine cool. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), a nonprofit organization that certifies auto care professionals and sets vehicle standards, notes that the radiator should be flushed and refilled. You may be able to handle this yourself, using your car's manufacturer-issued service manual.
ASE also notes you should be taking a look at your car’s air conditioning system. If there are any problems with it, you should leave this repair task to a trusted professional.
General automobile upkeep
Aside from the parts and systems of your car that are directly affected by weather, you should use this opportunity for any other maintenance tasks. The ASE recommends checking the light bulbs and wiper blades and replacing them if necessary. The former is particularly important, as a busted taillight or headlight are among the easiest ways to get yourself a traffic citation. Also, if it's been a while since you've gotten your oil changed, do so. It's one of the quickest automotive upkeep tasks to keep your car maintained properly.
If you were using snow tires and haven’t yet switched them out, give your standard tires a once-over. Check the pressure, looking for signs of under inflation, and also look for any damage to the treads. In the interest of being safe rather than sorry, get your car a new set of tires if you note either of these issues. If these aspects of the tires are in good condition, a simple rotation may be sufficient.
Your last task will be checking an often overlooked but vital aspect of automobile operation: the oxygen sensor. According to CBS News, this component largely dictates the engine's fuel mix. If it malfunctions, your gas mileage will be considerably reduced ─ as much as 40%. The sensor should be replaced at regular intervals ─ generally every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.
Article from Selective Insurance