As the weather improves, now is the time to wash away the remnants of winter and take care of some vehicle maintenance.
In many parts of the country, plenty of salt, sand or gravel covers roadways during the colder months, none of which are particularly friendly to cars and trucks over the long haul. Both the paint and the underside and often emerge from winter with plenty of residue. A thorough washing that includes the undercarriage will help you avoid the corrosive effects of salt and the abrasive impacts of sand and gravel, and help your ride last for many years.
No matter how careful you might be, salt also makes its way into your vehicle, leaving unsightly stains on carpets and upholstery. It’s worth a visit to a detailing shop for a thorough cleaning that can leave it looking like new.
Sand, salt and road grit often end up on your windshield, too, where they can tear up the rubber of your wiper blades. If your wipers do little more than streak as spring rains arrive, it’s a great time for a fresh set of blades, so you can see where you’re going no matter what the conditions. Even high-quality wiper blades are comparatively inexpensive and take only minutes to install.
Salt- and sand-infused road spray gets sucked into the engine’s air intake as you drive. Fortunately, the air filter prevents this stuff from getting into the engine itself, but in the process the filter gets encrusted in salt, restricting air flow and reducing performance and mileage. Spring is an ideal time to check the air filter and put in a clean replacement so your engine can breathe easier.
Winter takes a toll on roads as well as vehicles. As water seeps into cracks in the pavement, it freezes and expands causing chunks of road to pop out. Potholes can catch even the most careful drivers by surprise. Hitting a substantial divot in the pavement, or just sliding into a curb on a slippery road, can leave wheels pointing in odd directions. If your vehicle doesn’t roll straight down the road, the steering wheel pulls to one side, you experience vibration at speed or your tires start to wear unevenly, a trip to the alignment rack will get you back on the straight and narrow, and it costs a lot less than a new set of tires.
If you haven’t used your air conditioning system in several months, take the time now to make sure that it will work when you need it. Worn compressor drive belts should be replaced and, if necessary, the compressor itself should be repaired and the refrigerant recharged. Any vehicle system that isn’t operating efficiently can create an additional drain on the engine and cause it to use more gasoline, something no one wants.
When you have the air conditioning system inspected, it’s also a good time to have the cooling system checked to make sure the engine doesn’t overheat when you hit the road for spring break or summer road trips. The hoses should be checked for bulges and leaks, and the coolant should be flushed and replaced according to the recommended service schedule in the owner’s manual.
Last, but certainly not least, remember to have the oil and filter changed according to your manufacturer’s recommendations. Clean oil will keep engine friction to a minimum, help reduce fuel consumption and extend the life of your engine.
Your car, truck or SUV is a big financial investment; spend the necessary time now to keep it running properly and safely for the long run.
This article is presented by Penske Chevrolet in Indianapolis, Indiana.