Spring Car Care Section: Tips for springing into car care

Published on Thu, Apr 21, 2011
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Now that winter is just a memory, millions of Americans will take to the roads to enjoy the warmer weather. The Car Care Council reminds motorists that spring is the perfect time of year to make sure your vehicle is ready for the upcoming travel season.

Exterior

• Wiper blades play an extremely important role in increasing visibility. Replace every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering.

• Check the tires. A simple test to check tire tread depth is to insert a penny into the tread of the tire. If the top of Lincoln’s head sticks out, your tires are starting to show signs of wear and should be replaced.

Also check the tire inflation and inspect the tread for uneven wear, which could indicate the need for a wheel alignment. Look for bulges and bald spots.

• Give your car a good washing from top to bottom. Always clean the tires and wheels before washing the body, and don’t use the same mitt for both.

• If you find minor paint damage, cover the paint chips as quickly as possible. For a quick fix, dab a little clear nail polish on the scratch.

• Spring is an excellent time for waxing, which not only protects the finish but also makes subsequent washing easier. Before proceeding, make sure there are no foreign particles on the paint.

Under the Hood

• A good rule of thumb is that a change of season equals a change of oil. Change your car’s oil and filter every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.

• Get a tune-up if necessary. The following systems should be inspected: battery, charging and starting, engine mechanical, power train control, fuel, ignition and emissions.

• Check all fluids. There are several fluids that require attention, including oil, power steering fluid, brake and transmission fluids, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant, which should be refreshed every two years.

• Check hoses and belts. A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering, and the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps that are in marginal condition may need to be replaced.

Under the Vehicle

• Spring is a good time to check the entire brake system, including brake linings, rotors and drums.

• Check the shocks or struts for signs of physical damage, such as leaking, rusting or dents.

Also be aware of the warning signs that you may need them replaced: vehicle rolls or sways on turns, front end dives when braking, rear end squats when accelerating, vehicle sits lower in the front or rear, a loss of directional control during sudden stops, and the vehicle bounces or slides sideways on a winding and rough road.

The Car Care Council offers free service interval schedules on its website, www.carcare.org.