After a fairly short winter, Spring is finally here and soon we’ll be rolling down the windows and enjoying the weather. Even with a shorter cold season, there are still a few areas of your vehicle affected by the snow and ice. This quick checklist is a good place to start if you want to get the most from your car in the spring.
Before we get into any specific action items, it’s important to make sure that your factory maintenance is up to date. Your automobile has an owners manual. Most of us have never even seen our manual, let alone read through it. A word of advice – read it. It contains the recommended factory maintenance, including the intervals at which to perform them as well as recommended fluid compositions. In addition, make sure you’ve given your car a reasonably thorough inspection, looking for tire wear, listening for brake noises, and making note of any new issues such as stalling, difficulty starting, or rough running. Of course, if your “check engine” light is on, that would be a good indicator to give 5 points a call for an appointment. The following are some of the next items you’ll want to attend to after the winter.
- Replace your wiper blades – Cold weather makes soft rubber crack – especially when it’s constantly rubbing on hard surfaces with ice and moisture on them. Good wiper blades are inexpensive and easy to replace, and will go a long way towards keeping your vision clear.
- Refill the washer fluid – While we’re replacing the blades, it’s always a good idea to top off the washer fluid. It’s the one with the windshield wipers on the cap.
- Flush and refill the cooling system – Your cooling system is often one of the most overlooked systems in your vehicle, and as such, failures in the system can lead to much larger, more costly repairs. Your owner’s manual has all the information you need in order to properly monitor the coolant and adequately replace it. A word of warning here – NEVER OPEN THE RADIATOR WHEN THE VEHICLE IS HOT! The system pressurizes as it heats up, and will spray hot fluid everywhere when opened.
- Inspect your tires –
If you have snow or winter tires, spring is a good time to change back to the standard tires. Before you put them away for the winter, visually inspect them for tread wear, cuts, or any bulging in the sidewalls and repair or replace anything requiring replacement. Pot holes and rough roads often do damage to our tires without our knowledge, so it’s important to inspect the entire tire. If you use all-season tires, visually inspect them for any issues, and check their pressure. You’ll find the proper pressure for your car in the owner’s manual.
- Inspect all belts and hoses – Belts and hoses are made from rubber and other materials which don’t do well in the cold. Cracking, wear, and other issues often happen during the cold months. Most vehicles employ a “serpentine belt” which drives quite a few systems in your car. If that breaks, your car won’t go anywhere. Similarly with hoses, you typically won’t notice a problem with a hose until it goes bad. Check them and replace the ones which are worn. If you’re at all concerned about what you’re looking at, bring it in to 5 Points and one of our technicians will check it out for you.
- Get the A/C checked – Mainly a luxury item designed to make you cool on a hot summer day, the air conditioning also serves to help remove the humidity from your windshield when you’re de-fogging it. Rain, fog and wide temperature variations all make your windows foggy, and keeping them clear means making sure your air conditioner is working properly.
- Check all the lights – Those lights are there for your safety and the safety of others on the road. Take a few minutes and walk around the car to make sure the signals, hazards, high and low beams, and brake lights work. If you have trouble accessing the bulbs, stop in and we’ll help out.
Change the oil – The winter months typically create problems with your oil. Extra condensation in the oil, acid buildup, and longer warm-up periods all reduce protection in your vehicle. It’s a good time to start fresh.
- Check and replace filters – Air filters, cabin filters, fuel filters all collect the contaminants from the environment and filter them from the different systems in your car. Early spring is a good time to check them. You may not need to replace them all, but checking them never hurts.Our cars have become indispensable in this day and age. Like anything else which we rely on, it makes sense to make sure your car has all the help it needs to stay running smoothly. As always, check our specials page to see what coupons we’re running in order to help you defray some of the costs of keeping everything going. Following the above list will help ensure that you and your car both arrive at your destinations safely and without any surprises.