Drivers should thoroughly inspect their vehicles inside and out at each season change, either themselves or through a local service center, for signs of damage and degradation. Pep Boys, an automotive aftermarket service and retail chain, suggests six key areas to clean, inspect or have inspected this spring.
Spring is a great time to have your vehicle's battery checked for a full charge, ensuring it is operating in tip-top shape during warmer months. Battery terminals and other connections should be inspected for signs of corrosion. Built-up deposits can hurt a car's ignition system or even prevent the engine from starting.
Properly rotated and inflated tires allow drivers to brake more quickly, handle better, avoid danger on the road and get better gas mileage. Pep Boys recommends rotating a vehicle's tires per the manufacturer's suggested interval, or every 5,000 to 10,000 miles depending on wear and driving habits.
In addition to rotating the vehicle's tires, it's also important to regularly inspect each tire to make sure its pressure is within the manufacturer's guideline. Drivers can find the recommended pressure specification on the inside of the driver's side doorsill and in the owner's manual.
Filter and oil changes
Clean filters and oil help a car's engine move and breathe easier, and as a result improve engine performance. For maximum engine life, Pep Boys recommends inspecting or replacing dirty engine air filters and changing a vehicle's oil and oil filter as directed by the manufacturer in the vehicle owner's manual.
Spring is also a great time to inspect a vehicle's in-cabin air filter. When cold weather gives way to the warmer temperatures of spring, blooming flowers create additional pollen in the air. Regularly inspecting and replacing the in-cabin air filter can help prevent seasonal allergies and irritating odors emanating from the air conditioning system.
For optimum performance, change your wiper blades every six months and regularly check for streaking, chattering or skipping. Summer UV damage, winter ice and snow take a major toll on wipers. Drive safely and be ready for spring showers.
For both safety and convenience, it's important to regularly inspect and/or replace a vehicle's windshield washer, coolant and brake fluids at regular seasonal intervals or as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
At home or with the help of your local service center, have the coolant system flushed and refilled with fresh coolant as recommended in the vehicle owner's manual. Be sure to always fill the system with a 50 percent mixture of coolant to water to avoid altering the recommended antifreeze ratio.
Look at the brake fluid reservoir and make sure the level is above the "low" mark. An empty or low level of brake fluid reservoir usually indicates increased brake wear or a leak somewhere in the system, both of which can be dangerous. If either symptom is present, see your local service center immediately.
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Clearing snow, road grime and debris from the windshield can tax a vehicle's washer fluid level. As winter closes, inspect the washer fluid reservoir and make sure it is filled with the proper mix of washer fluid and water as directed by the vehicle owner's manual.
Clean and wash
A car deserves just as good a spring cleaning as the home does. Thoroughly cleaning and washing your vehicle inside and out removes built-up road grime, allowing for quick visual inspections and easy diagnosis of potential leaks and increased wear areas.
Once the interior and exterior of the car have been cleaned, consider cleaning the engine bay. Cleaning under the hood helps remove caked-on debris kicked up by tires and allows for a quick diagnosis of certain common engine problems like oil and coolant leaks, or frayed and cracked belts and hoses. (But leave this to the experts if you have an electric or hybrid vehicle.)