As winter winds down and you start getting into the warmer weather leading to spring, your car deserves some TLC after taking care of you through the harsh cold. Here are some tips for getting your car ready for spring to ensure safety and proper functionality of your car.
Wash The Car
It is time to inspect the car to see the damage that winter driving has done to it. But before you do that, you need to give it a good clean.
Visit a car wash that washes the exterior as well as the undercarriage. The undercarriage is where all the road salt and winter elements accumulate. A thorough clean will prevent rust build-up. Make sure to clean the interior of the car as well to get rid of any dirt, snow, salt that your shoes dragged in. Examine the car mats for any damage and decide whether to clean or replace.
Change the Tires
As a responsible driver who used proper winter tires on the icy roads during winter, it is now time to put them away and bring back your regular tires – all-weather or summer tires.
Inspect the winter tires and ensure that they can be used again the following winter. Monitor the tread and make sure that none of the tires are balding. Make plans to replace in case of any issues so that you are not caught by surprise when winter returns. As you mount the regular tires, align and rotate the tires to ensure safer wearing and get the best of out of them.
Oil and Fluids
After all that winter driving, get all the car’s fluids topped off – oil, engine coolant, brake fluid, power-steering, transmission, windshield/washer.
The change of seasons is a good time schedule that oil change if it is due. Changing the oil will ensure that your engine performs well and lasts longer.
Previously cars would have winter grade and summer grade oils however nowadays most motor oils are multi-grade or multi-viscosity. Winter grade oils are thinner and flow more easily in colder weather while summer oils are thicker at hot temperatures thin out oil. If you do use winter grade oil, see if it is time to do a proper oil change. Make sure to get it done before summer.
This is the water based fluid that absorbs heat from the engine and expels it through the fins of the radiator. It prevents the engine from overheating. If low, top up with the proper mixture of water and antifreeze.
In terms of safety, this is the most critical fluid to check. A car low on brake fluid will have very little stopping power even when the brake pedal has been pushed to the floor. As brake linings wear out, it is normal for the fluid levels to drop. A significant drop would indicate an issue with the brakes.
Windshield / Washer Fluid
Make sure you top up the windshield wiper fluid as it gets depleted faster during winter.
Transmission fluid is used as a lubricant in automatic transmission cars. It prevents the transmission from overheating and helps power the transmission by creating power and torque.
Check your car manual if this is necessary as some manufacturers claim that transmission oil doesn’t need replacement. For older cars you may need to replace the fluid after every 30,000-60,000km.
Air Filters, Belts and Hoses
Check the car’s hoses and belts for cracks or damage. Replace or repair if any damage is found. Make sure the air filters (both engine and cabin) are clean and working properly so that the air conditioning is ready for the approaching warm weather.
Check the Car AC
It is a good idea to run it regularly (even in winter) to ensure that the system stays active and clear. Better find out about any issues while its still cool rather than during the peak heat of summer.
Check the Battery
While winter is extremely hard on batteries, the coming spring-summer season can also put a large strain with the additional cooling. Check and see if you need a new one before the battery fails.
Check Windshield Wipers
Winter is really hard on windshield wipers and the coming of spring is a good time to examine wipers and see if they need replacing before the rains of spring. New wipers will improve visibility and reduce the probability of accidents. Remember to check both front and rear (if you have them).