April is fast approaching and that means the snow should be finished.
As hard as winter can be on us, it can be even harder on your car.
The extreme cold temperatures, ice and snow all lead to potholes, damaged suspension components and tired batteries.
Some of the work you can handle yourself, but some needs a trained eye.
Before you take your car anywhere you need to wash it, and do not neglect the underside, where salt can avoid the hose and eat away at the structure and suspension.
SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP
The oil change is the most important regular service you can have done. Oil cleans and lubricates the internal parts of the engine and prevents premature failure of parts.
If you do this work yourself always use the recommended grade of oil and never let the time between changes exceed the recommended interval.
While they are under your car have them check over the suspension for worn parts, torn boots and even damaged parts. A hard impact with a pothole can crack your rims and bend suspension components; a shop will be able to find such faults easily and quickly.
You should also have them check your engine belts for wear and tension. A broken or loose belt could leave you with a dead battery and strand you on the side of the road.
Be sure to have the cooling system looked at as well. They should check for loose hose clamps, signs of leaks and the condition of your radiator.
Spark plugs can last a long time these days; some are designed to last up to 100,000 miles.
However, they should be removed periodically and examined. By removing them once a year, you prevent them from seizing in the cylinder heads and the technician will also check them to be sure the proper gap is maintained, this will increase the fuel efficiency.
The last thing a technician should check is your battery. The frigid mornings are particularly tough on batteries.
Your local shop will be able to thoroughly check the condition of the battery, starting and charging systems.
DO IT YOURSELF
Does your car have a sunroof? Before you open it, have a look at the rubber gasket that seals it. Remove any debris to prevent it from dropping into your car.
Once it is open, wipe the gasket with a mild soap and water solution. I recommend dish soap, and make sure to wipe both the gasket and the glass surface that contacts the gasket.
Almost every modern car has two air filters, one for the engine and one for the cabin. Remove both and inspect them for holes, clogs and dirt. NEVER blow them out with compressed air and reinstall them, this will damage the filter element and allow dirt into the engine or your lungs.
If you are not sure where the filters are and how to remove them, just glance at your owner’s manual.
When you wash your car be sure and rinse the radiator through the grille with a hose not a pressure washer. You can also gently rinse the air conditioning condenser with a hose, to help it better perform in the coming hot weather.
The next thing to check is the tire pressures, including the spare. Check the label on the driver’s door or doorway for the correct inflation pressures. And while you’re filling the spare make sure you have the jack, a handle to operate the jack and a tire iron to remove and tighten the wheel nuts.
One last thing you should do is wash the carpets especially if you live in an area that uses road salt.
The dried salt will likely require a steam cleaning, but ignoring it can lead to corrosion. If you do not want to buy a small vehicle steam cleaner, take your car to a detailing car wash and they will be able to remove it.
By taking these simple precautions you will have the peace of mind that you and your family will have a safe and trouble free spring, summer and fall.