Spring Car Care Tips
Winter sweaters and boots are being swapped out for shorts and sandals. Have you done any warm weather maintenance on your car? Warm weather means long weekend getaways and even longer vacation road trips, so taking the time to perform seasonal maintenance today can help avoid trouble later.
Here are 5 tips for spring and summer car care. In some cases, you’ll be able to perform these procedures yourself. Others are best done by a mechanic as part of a tune-up. Some will help your vehicle look better, but most will help it perform more efficiently and get better gas mileage.
1. Clean your car. Road salt can eat away at the undercarriage of your car. Take your car to a car wash that cleans underneath the car, or use a garden hose with heavy water pressure to loosen winter grime and salt. Vacuum and wipe down the interior. Washing and waxing can keep your car looking brand new!
2. Check & rotate your tires. 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, since driving even a couple of miles to the gas station can provide a false reading. Higher pressure generally results in improved steering response and fuel economy, but a stiffer ride, and it wears out the tread in the center. Under-inflation generally provides a smoother ride, but it causes tires to wear out at the sides. It is also not fuel efficient, because tires need more power to push the vehicle.
Rotating your tires is a relatively simple car care procedure that will extend the tread life of your tires, and should be done roughly every 5,000-10,000 miles. A good rule of thumb is to rotate tires after every oil change
3. Check wiper blades. Your wipers work hard all winter removing dirt and debris, including salt spray. Since the life expectancy of a wiper blade is six months to a year, check that the blades are making full contact with the windshield and have not dried out. Don’t wait for a heavy spring or summer rainstorm to discover your blades aren’t performing properly. Also, check and top off the wiper fluid reservoir.
4. Change the air filter. The air filter prevents dust and other impurities from getting into the combustion chambers of the cylinders, 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.
5. Get everything under the hood examined. Flushing and filling your cooling system is cheap insurance against engine failure. Check the radiator cap, this will help to protect against boil-overs. Check your gas cap. If the seal is not tight, the gas in your tank can vaporize. Nearly 20 percent of vehicles have gas caps that are damaged, loose or missing altogether, wasting almost 147 million gallons of gas every year. Check the batter and spark plugs. Make sure that the battery posts and connections are secure and free of corrosion. Dirty spark plugs cause misfiring, which wastes fuel.
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