10 Things You Should Do To Get Your Vehicle Ready For Spring & Summer
Most will help your vehicle perform more efficiently, get better gas mileage and last longer.
Get rid of road salt on the undercarriage.
Road salt can damage your vehicle by eating away at its undercarriage. Use a garden hose with as much water pressure as your system can muster to loosen winter grime and salt. Or, if you have a movable lawn sprinkler that's low enough, set that under the vehicle to wash away what you can't reach.
Check the tires’ pressure.
Tire pressure changes about 1 pound per square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit change in outside temperature, so it's important to check tire pressure after weather changes. Check your owner's manual for the recommended pressure for your tire, and never exceed that. Always check pressure when the tires are cold.
Rotate the tires.
This is a relatively simple procedure that will extend the tread life of your tires, and should be done roughly every 3,500 miles.
Check/Replace wiper blades.
Your wipers work hard all winter removing dirt and debris, including salt spray. Don't wait for a heavy spring or summer rainstorm to discover your blades aren't performing properly. Also, refill the wiper fluid reservoir.
Change the oil and oil filter.
Follow the car manufacturer guidelines for service intervals. Consider upgrading to full-synthetic oil for maximum performance and longevity. Change the oil filter each time you change the oil, since it's obvious that a dirty filter won't keep the new oil clean.
Change the air filter.
The air filter prevents dust and other impurities from getting into the combustion chambers, resulting in wasted gas and weaker engine performance. According to the Car Care Council, replacing a clogged filter can improve mileage by as much as 10 percent. Change the air filter every six months.
Flush and fill your cooling system.
This is cheap insurance against engine failure. The Car Care Council recommends flushing every two years, or 24,000 miles for most vehicles.
Check the radiator and gas caps.
A snug radiator cap helps raise the cooling system pressure, giving added protection against boil-overs. Radiator caps don't last forever, so replace yours whenever you flush the cooling system. Be sure there's a tight seal on the gas cap, too, to prevent that high-priced octane from vaporizing. Nearly 20 percent of vehicles have gas caps that are damaged, loose or missing, wasting some 147 million gallons of gas every year.
Check the battery and spark plugs.
Make sure battery posts and connections are secure and free of corrosion. Spark plugs fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles. Dirty spark plugs cause misfiring, which wastes fuel. If you're planning a long trip, consider replacing the battery and spark plugs if they are more than two years old.
Clean the inside and out.
Discard the debris that's been hibernating under the seats all winter. Attack the cabin with the most powerful vacuum cleaner you can find. Check to see if your vehicle has a cabin air filter and change this once a year. Open the trunk, remove the spare tire and jack and vacuum here, too. Before returning the spare, check its pressure. Most likely it will need air, so remember to do that the next you time you fill the tank. Finally, you're ready to wash and wax. Ordinary dishwashing liquid in a bucket of water and a clean, soft sponge will do nicely for the washing, using a different sponge for the body and the tire rims. Then buff dry to a sparkle worthy of spring sunshine, apply a protective coat of wax if necessary and treat yourself to a leisurely ride. You've earned it!