Summer is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to prepare your car for warmer temperatures. Not sure exactly where to start? Here’s a checklist of common maintenance items you’ll want to address as you get your car ready for the changing weather.
Inspect the Brakes, Battery, Hoses and Belts
Before you take a long, leisurely summer drive, it’s imperative to make sure your brakes are in good working order to ensure safe driving. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence recommends consulting your owner’s manual for routine brake maintenance schedules, and being aware of abnormalities such as pulsing, unusual sounds, grabbing and longer braking times.
Also, as SheKnows.com notes, your battery has to work harder in the winter, draining as much as 50 percent of its power, and your car’s hoses and belts can become damaged in fluctuating temperatures. They recommend examining the belts (with the engine off) for signs of wear and tear. Contact your mechanic for a more thorough inspection should you find any potential issues.
Check Your Wheels and Tires
Your tires take a lot of wear and tear to keep you safe on the road. One of the most important things to keep your eye on is the tire tread, according to AOL Autos. An easy way to check your tread depth is to take a penny and place it into the tread, close to the center of each tire. You’ll know you need new tires if the tread doesn’t cover any of Abe’s head. It’s also a good idea to inspect your tires for low tire pressure as well, since low tire pressure can damage (and ultimately destroy) the sidewall of your tires, according to About.com.
You’ll also want to make sure your wheels are properly aligned so that your car handles as it should on those summer road trips. If you notice your car’s steering isn’t centered and your car seems to pull to one side, AOL recommends that you take it to an alignment shop for further inspection.
Clean, Clean, Clean
There’s nothing quite like a shiny, clean car on a warm day, but looks aren’t the only reason to clean your car. You’ll want to clean the undercarriage of your vehicle to remove any caked-on salt and chemicals that may have built up over the winter. All that build-up can lead to corrosion and rust that can damage your car, according to the New York Times. They compare rust prevention to brushing your teeth. If you consistently keep them clean, you’re unlikely to have cavities, but if you do find a problem, early management will prevent extensive damage. Same goes with rust and corrosion.
It’s also recommended to get under your hood and use soapy water and a soft cloth to clean off the engine, and remove any white residue on your battery using a toothbrush, baking soda and water.
Examine the Wipers for Damage
This past winter was a doozy for many parts of the country. This is all the more reason to inspect your windshield wipers, as they’ve likely taken quite a beating over the last several months. YellowPages.com recommends inspecting your wipers for warping, and to give them a test run to ensure that they’re properly working. If you spot any areas of concern, it might be best to replace them. In any case, they recommend replacing your wipers every six months.
Check the Fluids
To prepare your car for warmer weather, AOL Autos recommends making sure your car is filled up with necessary fluids like coolant, power steering, windshield washer, brake and transmission fluids. Check for puddles of coolant under your car to ensure there’s no leak, recommends HowStuffWorks.com, and if you find a puddle, consult with your service station as soon as you can. You’ll also want to top off your oil if you haven’t done so already, because, as the Chicago Tribune points out, when your fluids are too low, your car won’t function properly.
Whether you do it yourself or you have it done by a professional, seasonal car maintenance is an important part of owning and preserving the safety and longevity of your vehicle. And remember, you can always visit your local dealer for any maintenance assistance or questions.
Do you have additional vehicle maintenance tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!