Tune-Up Your Vehicle in Time for Spring

From wearing down brakes, ruining windshield wiper blades and causing auto hoses to crack, Winter can do some serious damage to vehicles of all sizes. This damage can become an even bigger issue if you don’t take the time to make sure that everything is running and functioning correctly by the time Spring rolls around. Just like spring cleaning, there’s no better time to give your vehicle a tune-up to ensure that your car or truck is running smoothly throughout the entire year. Below you’ll find helpful information on where to get started on tuning up your vehicle and what components and accessories are important to check on a vehicle after winter.

Check Tires

Winter road conditions and salt from the road, can cause tires to wear down more quickly during the colder months. In addition to road conditions, tires stiffen under 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This stiffening or hardening can cause cracks in the tire. Other than what’s under the hood of your car, tires are one of the most vital components of driving. This is why it’s important to check the tread of your tires, as well as the air pressure. If your tires are cracking, are bald, and/or have the thread showing, it’s time for a new set of tires. You don’t want to be driving on a sunny Spring day and have to deal with a tire blowout, which can be dangerous for both you and other roadway users. Additionally, when you check your tires or have them changed, have the alignment checked, winter roads and potholes can throw your vehicle out alignment which can cause your tires to wear down faster and can pull your vehicle in one direction or the other.

Wiper Blades & Wiper Fluid

Wiper blades are usually a car accessory that only is thought about when something goes wrong. Be proactive this year and switch out your wiper blades and check your wiper fluid tank. After a long winter, wiper blades aren’t as useful as they once were, thanks to ice and snow. Getting new wiper blades is a cheap and easy fix that you’ll be happy you did before they really stopped working.

Radiator: Hoses and Auto Clamps

auto hose clamps

Just as tires are worn down by freezing temperatures, the same is true of auto hoses, such as radiator hoses. In addition to flushing and refilling your cooling system in time for spring or every two years, you’ll want to look over your auto hoses and auto hose clamps to make sure that everything is in good condition. If the radiator hose clamp is too loose it can cause leakage which results in overheating (not good) and if a radiator hose clamp is too tight it can wear down the radiator hose. If you’re unsure what to look for in terms of auto clamps and hoses, take your car to a mechanic. In addition to checking the hose and auto hose clamps, check your radiator and gas caps. Just like radiator hose clamps, a well-fitting radiator cap will protect against boil-overs and also assists in raising the pressure of the cooling system. Though it’s not something most people think about, nearly 20 percent of vehicles have gas caps that are damaged, loose or missing altogether. This ends up wasting almost 147 million gallons of gas every year. A good rule of thumb is to replace your radiator cap when you flush the cooling system.

Check The Battery

During the colder half of the year, your battery can run into a variety of problems,  mainly with connections. Part of your Spring tune-up checklist should include checking your battery’s connections by making sure they are snug and free from dirt, debris, and corrosion. Spark plugs that are covered in grime or not secured properly can cause misfiring which wastes fuel. Also, if it’s been more than two years since you changed your battery or spark plugs, you may want to consider getting a new battery.  This article explains that if your spark plug posts are dirty, remove the cables, negative cable first and if you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, take it to your local auto parts store or mechanic and let them take care of it.

Check The Brakes

During the winter the salt that is thrown out on the roadways can negatively impact your brakes. The salt used to melt ice during winter can cause the metal to corrode, which doesn’t allow your brakes to work properly. Over time, especially during the colder months, brakes can wear down and should be checked to make sure they are working correctly in order to keep you and your passengers safe. You can easily have your brakes checked when you have your tires changed and/or balanced at your local tire center.

Check The Oil

auto hose clamp - draining oil from car

Just as the seasons roll around every 3 to four months (typically) you need to change your oil about that often or at least check it and top it off.  You can either take your vehicle to a professional to have it changed or do it yourself. If you’ve never changed the oil in your car before, enlist a friend to help and check out resources on how to properly change the oil in your car. You can also find information about changing this vital lubricant by reading “How to Change Your Oil (The Real Down and Dirty).”

Change The Air Filter

The air filter in a vehicle is what blocks dust and other debris from seeping into the combustion changers of the cylinders which results in weaker performance. Much like radiator hose clamps and wiper blades, the air filter is a forgotten, but important car accessory that must be checked often in order to ensure your car or truck is performing at it’s best. It can be hard to determine if your air filter needs to be changed just by looking at it, so it’s best to change it at least every six months. Changing the air filter is something you can easily do yourself at home.

Cleaning The Interior and Exterior of Your Vehicle

Finally, once you’ve checked to make sure your car and all of its parts are working, it’s time to clean it from top to bottom. You can either take your car to have it professionally detailed, which will cost you about $100 or more or you can clean your vehicle yourself. Start from the exterior first cleaning the salt off the undercarriage and then cleaning everything until it shines before moving to the interior of your car. You can find more tips on how to clean your car the right way, here.

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