This article, entitled "Get Your Car Ready and Reliable for Spring in 10 Easy Steps," comes from partner site Money Talks News.
Even if you’re ready for spring, your car probably isn’t.
Before winter hits, most people have their cars’ oil changed, tires checked and other pre-winter maintenance completed. But winter takes a heavy toll on cars, often causing hidden damage that could be costly or dangerous.
Now’s the time to make sure your car is road ready for spring. Here are 10 must-do checks car experts recommend to drive safely into the season:
1. Take your car for a tire check
Almost all cars in the U.S. are fitted with all-season tires.
They’re safe and reliable in most climates, but they aren’t as flexible as traditional snow tires. All-season tires stiffen in the cold, especially when the temperatures drop below 20 degrees F. That can cause cracks and other damage.
While you’re there, it’s a good idea to have your tires rotated and air pressure checked. It will make the tires last longer and ensures they’ll grip on rain-slicked roads.
2. Replace your wiper blades
Anyone who has had their windshield wiper peel off during a heavy spring rain knows that winter can be hard on blades. Even if your blades look OK, replace them if they start to leave streaks on your windshield. An auto technician can change them, or you can easily replace them yourself. Just check your car’s owner manual for the correct size.
3. Ensure your car’s brakes are checked
Does your car stop easily? Do you hear a grinding sound when you step on the brakes? Your car’s brakes may need to be replaced. Even if you don’t think there’s a problem, it’s never a bad idea to have an auto technician check them. National retailers including Pep Boys and Goodyear offer free brake inspections.
4. Clean the underbody
Most of us take great pride in washing and waxing our cars so they gleam in the spring sunshine. But don’t forget to have the underbody sprayed, too. Salt builds up in crevices and hidden areas underneath, including under the bumpers. You can spray water under your car. A better option is to go to an automatic car wash. Most spray the undersides of cars as they clean the topsides.
5. Change the oil
Many cars use thinner oil during the winter than in the summer. Thin oil flows more easily during cold weather and ensures your car starts more easily. When warmer spring weather arrives, it’s wise to have an oil change and use thicker oil.
Even if your car uses multi-viscosity oil, as many do, spring is a great time to change it. Winter is hard on engines, and the oil and filter become dirty. Changing the oil will ensure your engine performs well and lasts longer. That means less chance of a breakdown in steaming hot weather.
6. Request checks of other fluids
Multiple fluids are needed for your car to function properly. Many people don’t find out that fluids are low or dirty until they fail and their cars are damaged. There usually aren’t many obvious warning signs. When your car is serviced, ask the technicians to check the following fluids: power steering, brake fluid, transmission fluid, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
The technician should also check belts and wires. Many of those crack or become loose during the winter months, especially if rodents and other small animals crawl into engines to stay warm.
7. Check your air conditioner
Test your air conditioner by running it for about 15 minutes once a month, even in winter.
No, it won’t hurt it. In fact, it might make it last longer. Running the air conditioner ensures the system stays fresh and active. Plus, you’ll find out if the air conditioner doesn’t work before the blazing hot days of summer.
Your car technician can also check the system pressure readings and other elements.
8. Schedule a wheel alignment
Of course, cars hit potholes and other dips and bumps that crop up on roads during the winter. That can throw your wheels out of alignment and cause a host of problems including stress on your car’s suspension, uneven tire wear and other potentially dangerous issues. Stop by a car care center and have your car’s tires aligned.
9. Change your cabin air filter
Does your car smell funny? Many car owners don’t know that there is an air filter in the car’s cabin. The filter is easy to locate and change yourself. NAPA gives a step-by-step guide. If you’re not handy just ask your car technician to change it.
10. Check the battery
Car owners always think that batteries die during the winter. Of course they do, but they also die in the summer. Advance Auto Parts and Firestone Complete Auto Care centers are among the national auto care chains that offer free battery testing.
Are you about ready for spring to come? Is your car?