Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Spring
1. Work outside in
Get rid of the accumulation of salt, grime and grit by giving your car a good wash-and-wax. (A professional detailing will take care of the exterior and interior!)
Check all exterior accessories: windshield wipers, lights (front and rear) and mirrors for any damage.
Peek underneath to check for any fluid drips or leaks.
2. Deal with body damage.
Signs of dings or scratches? Make sure the surface is clean and dry and then try buffing out minor scratches or use touch-up paint for deeper ones, says Molla.
Have rust spots examined by your dealer or an ASE certified auto body technician for the best advice on how to deal with them.
3. Check under the hood
- Follow the recommended service schedules for the cooling system, air conditioner system, fluids and filters.
- Belts, clamps and hoses are also due for a once-over and replacement if needed.
- Check the fluid levels while the car is on a level surface: dipstick for oil and visual exam for washer, brake and anti-freeze fluids, says Molla.
4. Evaluate road-worthiness
Does your vehicle need alignment? Signs include uneven tire wear or vehicle pulling or drifting to one side. (Not sure if it’s an alignment issue? Visit your dealer or ask an ASE certified technician.) “Virtually all modern vehicles now require a 4-wheel alignment, which should be done periodically according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, or when correcting an obvious problem,” says Molla. “It’s also a good idea to have the alignment checked when replacing tires.”
Do you need new tires? Check the overall condition, inflation, and tread wear. A good rule is to have your tires rotated at least twice a year, which also allows the tech to do a visual inspection of the disc brake pads to check the wear.
How are your brakes: spongy, soft, noisy? “Unfortunately, too many drivers wait until they hear that terrible metal-on-metal screeching sound when applying the brakes,” says Molla. “At that point, it’s usually an expensive repair.” Better idea: have them checked at least twice a year at your dealership by a certified technician. Brake wear-out depends entirely on your driving habits, so regular inspections are essential.