Spring is Too Sweet: Don’t Let a Breakdown Spoil It
The ground is thawing and the birds are chirping, that means warmer temps are on the way. This is the perfect time to maintain your car – before Spring fever conveniently lets you forget to do it. Just as spring cleaning is a good idea for your home, spring maintenance is a smart idea for your car.
Depending on where you live, winter can cause your vehicle to take a beating, both externally and inside your engine. Now is the perfect time to see what should be addressed, and prepare for summer driving — before the heat of summer comes!
Spring Car Care: Seven Ways To Prepare
These seven tips can be done with little to no cost unless there is a major problem. It is empowering when you can change your own coolant or know when you need an oil change by looking at the oil. If you need a guide to what is under the hood, ask someone knowledgeable, or ask a good mechanic to show you around your car.
1. Inspect your windshield wipers. Chilly winter temps and ice can cause your wiper blades to lose their effectiveness. Most auto parts stores will change them for you for free. Better yet, have them show you how to change them and you can do it yourself anytime.
2. Check your oil. If it’s been over 3,000 miles since your last oil change, it’s probably best to get an oil change and top off the fluids (make sure they check brake fluid, power steering and transmission fluids). Warmer temps will take a toll on your oil, so it’s good to start the season with fresh, clean motor oil.
3. Be sure to check and see if your engine needs more coolant. You may need to add coolant or have a flush-and-fill performed. Trying to make it through summer with inadequate coolant is a recipe for a roadside disaster.
4. Speaking of keeping cool, be sure to test your air conditioning system. If it’s not providing enough cool air, you may need more refrigerant. Or, it might be a clogged condenser, leak, or loose drive belt. Regardless, it’s smart to fix this situation in spring before the peak heat of summer arrives. Who wants a broken A/C at the beach?
5. Check your tire pressure. Wide temperature variations are common with changes of season and can cause your tires to lose pressure more quickly. And remember, under-inflated tires don’t get as good MPG or grip the road as well as properly inflated tires.
6. Check the tread on your tires. If they look worn, replace your tires before the heavy rains and reduced traction of spring come along.
She Buys Cars Tip: Insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires.
7. Does everything look good under the hood? Does it pass the smell test? Look for cracks, swelling, fraying or leakage. If something looks borderline, have it checked out or replace it yourself; warmer weather could likely cause it to fail.
She Buys Cars Tip: Hear a squeal or squeak? Get that checked right away. A busted belt or hose can blow your whole engine and that is a costly repair you do not want to deal with.
Educate Yourself About Your Car and Feel Empowered
If you aren’t comfortable doing these things yourself, take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic and ask for a 29 point inspection. This will ensure that everything is ready to go for warmer temperatures. Nothing will ruin a road trip like unexpected car problems.
Many of a car’s systems will flash a warning light to alert you of an issue, and you can install an OBD II reader (or on board diagnostics) to know just what is going on under the hood, but it’s always best to know your car yourself.
And that way, you’re assured your spring fling will be uninterrupted!