Shake off the dust and rust and get ready for nicer weather
With winter nearly over and warmer weather on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about getting your automobile back into shape. Cold weather and poor road conditions wreak havoc on your vehicle, both inside and out, so here are some helpful suggestions to get your ride ready for spring.
A thorough exterior and interior cleaning is first on the to-do list. Outside, be sure to give your car, truck or SUV a good wash to remove dirt and debris that has built up over the winter. Those in snowy regions should pay special attention to the undercarriage, where salt and sand can take its toll on metal parts.
Inside, clean out any winter-specific accessories you are carrying, and be sure to check and replenish your first-aid and roadside assistance kits. If you carry items like tire chains or bags of sand or kitty litter in the winter, it can be tempting to just leave them in the trunk or bed until next year, but don’t do it – all that extra weight will cost you money at the pump. According to www.fueleconomy.gov, carrying just 100 extra pounds can reduce your mileage by up to two percent.
Pay special attention to your vehicle’s upholstery and carpet to ensure they are free of dirt, stains and salt residue, and make sure you use products safe for the specific type of cloth, microfiber, suede or leather you have. Your dealership can advise you about the appropriate cleaners, stain removers, etc., recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer, and most dealers offer detailing services to quickly and professionally get your vehicle looking great.
Now that winter is almost over, it’s also time to replace your snow tires with your warmer-weather rubber. While you’re at it, check both sets of tires to see if they are ready for another season. Make sure there is adequate tread depth, and look for uneven tread wear that could indicate a balancing or wheel alignment issue. Vibrations felt when driving, and pulling to one side or the other, are also signals that service is in order. Your brakes have probably been through a lot over the past few months, so having a factory-trained technician take a good look at all the components would be a good idea, too.
Next, check your belts and hoses; fluid levels; battery; air, oil and fuel filters; and plugs and wires. Test your air conditioning system to be sure it is blowing cold air, and inspect your wiper blades for winter damage. It’s also a good time to get an oil change.