5 tips for April vehicle maintenance

April 14, 2015 10:13 AM

April may be the first full month of spring, but it's also National Car Care Month. This is the ideal time of year to prepare for summer, when you'll likely be contending with high temperatures and lengthy road trips, while also fixing any problems that the winter may have contributed to. 

"Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time to focus on your vehicle's maintenance needs to make sure it is ready for the upcoming spring and summer travel season," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. 

1. Stick to a car care program 
One of the most important things you can do is determine a plan for vehicle maintenance. You should double-check an owner's manual to see what the recommended timetable is for tune ups and other standard procedures. The work doesn't stop when you lay out the schedule - you have to closely follow the plan as well. 

"Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value. These results show that the majority of vehicle owners could save money by being proactive in the maintenance of their second largest investment," White explained. 

2. Be smart about oil changes 
Getting an auto oil change is one of the most fundamental things you can do to care for your car. A study from the Car Care Council noted that nearly one quarter of all vehicles have dirty or low motor oil that needs to be replaced, meaning a large number of cars are running on the roads at a less than optimum level. Have your oil checked and changed. You should also consider using synthetic motor oil, as it can last longer than traditional fluid. 

3. Rotate your tires 
Your tires may have taken a lot of wear and tear throughout the winter. Make sure they're getting the TLC they need with the proper alignment and rotation. This extends the life of your wheels and can even lead to smoother driving performance. It's also important to monitor the air pressure in your tires. Changes in temperature - such as the ones that may occur during the spring, when nights get cool but sunny days are warm - can lead to fluctuations in tire pressure. Keep checking this so you can keep the wheels at the proper inflation, which provides you with better fuel efficiency and performance. 

4. Pay attention to the check engine light 
The check engine light isn't a suggestion. According to the Car Care Council survey, about 13 percent of vehicles sent in for seasonal inspections have this alert on. Because the sign could be triggered by any number of problems, it's essential to have an expert examine under the hood and diagnose the problem in a timely manner. Most issues can be easily fixed, but the light can sometimes be a sign of bigger problems, so going in for a check-up is a must. 

5. Think about the environment 
April isn't just National Car Care Month. Earth Day is also on the calendar, which makes it the perfect time to think of ways to make your vehicle a bit more eco-friendly. Consider investing in ways to improve your car's fuel efficiency. Not only will this reduce the total you have to spend at gas stations this summer, but it brings numerous environmental benefits as well. 

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