Your car bears the brunt of winter. The intense temperatures, slick roadways, and wet weather can do a number on your car’s engine and body. When the weather warms up, take a moment to care for your car with these inexpensive maintenance tips.
Wash your car, paying special attention to the undercarriage. The corrosive salts used to de-ice roadways like to hang out under there, and if left for very long, they could begin to corrode the body of your vehicle.
Vacuum your car mats. Mud, slush, snow, rain, and leaves – there’s no telling what was tracked into your car this winter. Shampooing, or at least vacuuming, your interior mats will help keep your car in prime condition and could also reduce any seasonal allergies you may have.
Rotate your tires at the beginning of each season to extend the life of the set. According to AAA, wheels wear more quickly in winter driving conditions. If you’ve invested in a set of snow tires, put them away until next year. Snow tires have a special tread and rubber consistency, which helps them perform well in snowy weather, but also causes them to wear more quickly than all-season tires.
Check your tire pressure. There’s a good chance your tire pressure light popped on when the temperature started to drop. Since air is a gas, it expands when heated and contracts when cooled. If you inflated your tires in frigid temperatures, they could become overinflated come warmer months.
Safercar.gov suggests checking your tire pressure every month, as tires naturally lose air over time. So, if it’s been a few months since you last checked your tire pressure they could also be underinflated. Driving on underinflated tires can reduce gas mileage and increase tire wear, which could result in poor handling. Driving on underinflated tires also increases friction, which could cause tires to overheat and increases your likelihood of a blowout.
Listen to your brakes. Do they sound like they’re grinding? Chattering? Squeaking? Road salt and debris can build up on your brakes, causing them to bind and leading to uneven and premature wear. In extreme cases, rust from road salt can cause brake failure, and in wet summer weather, brakes can become less responsive. If something doesn’t sound right or feel right, consult your mechanic about the state of your brakes.
Check all your fluids. Winter driving conditions force your engine to work harder and can reduce your car’s fluid levels faster than usual. As summer approaches, AAA suggests you check all your fluids to prevent a breakdown on a hot summer road trip. These fluids include your antifreeze/coolant level, engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power-steering fluid.
By caring for your car through the seasons, you’ll limit the major maintenance that has to be done down the road while maximizing your vehicle’s daily efficiency.