End-of-Winter Maintenance Checks
April 2018
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End-of-Winter Maintenance Checks
Tips to ensure a smooth ride into the spring

Winter is over, and soon you’ll be able to roll down the windows, open the sunroof and bask in a bright sunny day of driving. Now is the time to compile your end-of-winter to-do list and put together your vehicle maintenance checklist. By repairing any damage your car suffered during winter and readying it for a new season, you’ll sail through spring with far fewer automotive worries.

Battery

Cold weather doesn’t just sap your energy levels. It also drains your car’s battery, and it does so at an alarming rate. Just because your car still starts as expected every morning doesn’t mean that it didn’t take a beating during winter. Because of the cold’s negative effects, spring is the ideal time to get your battery power level evaluated. If necessary, it’s imperative to invest in a new battery as soon as possible, because being stranded with a dead battery is unfortunate irrespective of the weather outside.

Writes Jon Linkov in an article in Consumer Reports, “You can have the battery professionally tested at a service station, auto parts store or repair shop. A tired battery may just need to be charged. But if it’s defective or just worn out, it’s best to replace it before it goes completely dead.”

Tires

Ice, snow, slush, cracks and potholes — your tires have carried you through challenging winter terrain thanklessly and reliably, which means they might be more worn down than you think. According to CarCareNewsService.org, you need to evaluate the tread of your tires to determine how it stood up to winter, monitor the air pressure in each tire and seek out bald spots or bulges. If you notice uneven wear on your tires, it’s probably time for a wheel alignment, if not time for a brand new set altogether.

FMMotorParts.com recommends switching out your winter tires, if applicable, for all-season tires, which tend to be a better fit for driving in spring. Switching to seasonally-appropriate tires ensures better performance and efficiency for the time of year ahead.

Wiper blades

Cutting through icy showers and falling snow will dull and damage your windshield wiper blades. As Linkov notes, wiper blades typically carry a six-month lifespan, which makes the end of winter and start of spring the perfect time to equip your car with a new pair.

Even if your wiper blades appear to be in decent condition, Linkov writes that “streaks or missed expanses of glass are sure signs that the blades are ready for retirement.”

Exterior

If your car looks greyer, duller or less shiny than you remember before winter set in, bust out the water bucket and soap for a thorough cleaning. Just make sure that any car washes include consideration for the undercarriage. Road salt may have taken up residence in hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, and it can cause corrosion and damage to vital components if left sitting for too long.

Fluids

Even if you’re diligent about oil changes, winter temperatures can cause oil to thicken, which Linkov says can cause your engine work harder. He advises you to check your oil and change it along with  your oil filter, if necessary, to protect your engine and to help it run as efficiently as possible.

While you’re under the hood, CarCareNewsService.org recommends checking coolant levels, as well as your brake, power steering and transmission fluids. Also check if your windshield wiper solution is at the proper level and be sure to dilute it with water if you choose to fill it yourself.

Belts and hoses

Just like winter temperatures make your skin crack, your car’s heater and radiator hoses are at risk as well. Linkov recommends assessing any signs of wear and tear and addressing them before they create more significant problems.

“The hoses should be firm yet pliable when you squeeze them. Scrap them if they feel brittle or overly soft,” he writes.

With winter in the rearview, spring arriving at last and summer just over the horizon, now is the time to evaluate your car and all its working parts. Have a professional give your vehicle a thorough inspection and address any potential issues before they cause bigger problems.

This article is presented by Jannell Ford in Hanover, Massachusetts.


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