Spring Cleaning for Your Car
The dawning of spring can inspire us to refresh and renew many aspects of our lives. Our homes and wardrobes often get a spring-inspired overhaul, but our cars can also benefit from revitalization as the seasons change. Whether you live in an area that had a mild winter or you experienced harsh weather and snow, here are some steps you can take this spring to keep your car in tip-top shape.
Wash your car. If you live in an area that received lots of snow this winter, you're likely to have an accumulation of salt on, and especially under, your car. According to AccuWeather.com, it's important to wash underneath the car and in the wheel wells, where there may be a buildup of road salt, which could cause corrosion. "This rotting or corrosion can harm the car's exhaust and muffler systems, coil springs and the frame of the car."
The Car Care Council recommends washing your car from top to bottom to prevent dragging dirt upward. "Clean the fenders and bumpers last since they will have the most dirt and grime that can contaminate the wash mitt."
Waxing your car after washing can add shine and help protect the paint. Consumer Reports found that liquid waxes do a better job of cleaning than spray and paste waxes. Regardless of which wax you choose, Consumer Reports says for optimum protection, it's best to reapply wax within five weeks.
Clean the interior. After removing any trash and vacuuming the interior, Popular Mechanics recommends scrubbing the carpets and power-washing floor mats. "Being thorough with the carpet is important, as it can act like a filthy, salty, wet rag that accelerates rusting. When you're done, pull the drain plugs under the floor and let things air out for a few days."
If you have tough stains, Consumer Reports suggests renting a steam cleaner. But if you're on a budget, the publication says to try a spray bottle of carpet cleaner. A microfiber cloth and a mild cleaner are good for tidying the dash, it adds. Also be sure you're using the correct cleaner for each surface. "For leather trim, use a leather cleaner. Clean the inside of windows with glass cleaner, but spray directly onto your cloth to avoid streaking."
Change your wiper blades. Winter can take a toll on your windshield wiper blades, so to prepare for spring showers, it’s a good idea to replace them. Newer blades will be more effective at clearing water, and will help you see. If your wiper blades are not clearing water effectively or cause streaking, it's probably time for a new pair. "Our tests have found that most blades are ready for replacement after just six months, but you can try extending their service life by wiping them with a cloth and glass cleaner before removing them," Consumer Reports says.
Check your tires. Between inclement weather and its resulting potholes, winter can wear down your tires. CBS News says worn tires can limit your braking power. To test your tires for wear, the site recommends inserting a quarter into each tire's grooves. If Washington's head is covered, you likely have enough tread to drive safely, CBS News reports. The site also notes that keeping your tire pressure at manufacturer-recommended levels can increase gas mileage by 3 percent.
If you use winter tires, make sure to replace them with your non-winter tires. Popular Mechanics says, "Leaving winter tires on too long will result in excess wear, because they soften with warmer temperatures."
Inspect your ventilation system. To prepare for warmer weather and ensure cabin comfort, be sure your air conditioner is properly functioning. Turn on your car's air conditioner to its highest setting and make sure it reaches a cool temperature in a reasonable amount of time, says CBS News. If it doesn't, you should schedule maintenance.
It's also important to replace your cabin's air filter. Popular Mechanics says, "This filter keeps dirt, pollen, and plant matter from entering the ventilation system."
Check and replace your fluids. To preserve the health and life of your car, it's essential to regularly check your engine oil and replace it when necessary. You should add oil if your dipstick indicates that it's below the manufacturer-recommend level. You should also check the oil's color. If it appears lighter, it could be an indication of engine trouble.
Don’t forget to make sure your windshield wiper fluid is topped off, if needed, since it can be depleted by winter weather.
These easy tips will help spring your car into the new season.
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