Car Care: Help Your Car Recover from Winter
Harsh winter weather, salt and grime can easily cause premature aging of your ride if left to accumulate. The end of winter is a good time for a good spring cleaning.
First and foremost, the salt and sand that road crews apply to help you stay on icy roads generally don’t mix well with the way cars and trucks are constructed. When mixed with bare steel, salt deposits are the feeding ground for corrosion. On leather and fabric upholstery, salt and grit can cause fading, rotting and wear.
Fortunately, modern car and truck bodies are generally made of galvanized steel that is much more resistant to rust, but that doesn’t mean they are completely impervious. Sand and stones that get thrown up from the road surface can eventually wear through paint and other coatings exposing the metal and making it more susceptible.
To minimize the effects of salt, it’s a good idea to get regular car washes throughout the winter and especially in the spring. The spring wash should really focus on the underside of the car and around the wheel wells.
Rust isn’t the only potentially nasty byproduct of road salt. Your engine is constantly drawing in air through a filter as it runs. In the winter, the moisture in the air can contain substantial amounts of salt. That salt gets deposited on the filter as the air flows through and, as it dries, the filter can become plugged. Spring is an excellent opportunity to swap out the filter.
Cold temperatures, salt, sand, ice and snow buildup can also cause a lot of wear on rubber windshield wiper blades, too. By the time the snow has melted, odds are pretty good that your blades are doing more streaking of the water on the windshield than actual wiping, so a fresh set of blades can keep the view clear on rainy days.
As the salt is washed from the roads and the exterior of your ride, it’s an excellent opportunity to head over to your local dealer and take advantage of the many spring service and detailing specials they offer. Along with the usual oil changes and topping off of fluids, there are plenty of other things to take care of.
If you’ve opted to run on dedicated winter tires for maximum traction in the snow, now is the time to replace them with all-season or summer rubber. Winter tires are specially formulated to work great in cold weather with special tread patterns and rubber compounds. Running these tires in warm weather will cause them to wear out prematurely and give you degraded handling.
If you have a second set of wheels mounted with tires, ask about storage services for your tires during the off-season. Whether or not you are changing your tires, the change of seasons is an excellent time to rotate the tires and get a full inspection of the running gear.
Dealership service technicians can check for uneven tire wear, which may be an indication of an alignment problem or suspension damage. The freeze and thaw cycles that are typical of late winter cause chunks of pavement to pop out, producing potholes. When you hit the sharp edges of those craters at speed, it can cause bent wheels, bent or broken suspension links and even tire damage. Curbs, parking blocks and railroad tracks can all knock wheels out of alignment, too. Factory-trained service technicians can recognize and correct subtle, and not so subtle, alignment problems to optimize your handling and tire life.
While the wheels are off for changing or rotation, a full inspection of the brakes is recommended to make sure your stopping power is up to snuff. The sand and grit that come off the road during the winter can get jammed between the brake pads and rotors and create extra wear. A single small stone can cause a substantial groove to be worn into the rotor surface. A technician can quickly replace or refinish worn or damaged brake components to restore your stopping capability and make sure functions like Traction and Electronic Stability Control can work as they were designed to help keep you safe.
Once all the mechanical stuff has been taken care of, it’s time to pay some attention to the space inside. Snow, slush salt and sand get tracked inside your vehicle all winter, and you may even find that telltale white salt residue on your carpets or upholstery.
A thorough detailing that includes carpet and upholstery cleaning will remove damaging salt residue and leave you with fresh and renewed carpet and upholstery, conditioned leather and sparkling clear windows. A dirty or filmy windshield is especially dangerous when driving into the sun in the morning or evening. A visit to the specialists at your dealer can get your interior all cleaned up and refreshed so it feels like new.
Stop by today to learn about the services we can offer. Your car will appreciate it, and so will you.