How to handle springtime car maintenance

March 5, 2015 09:31 AM

March has finally arrived, and it should be bringing spring weather to many parts of the U.S. As people wait eagerly for more moderate temperatures and some much-needed sunshine, they should turn their attention to their cars. There's certain updates that need to be completed before you can drive off into the springtime sunset. 

"Your car has been through a long winter, working overtime in harsh conditions, but factors such as extreme cold, potholes and road salt have taken a toll," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "Most Americans rely on their vehicles nearly every day to get to work, school and everywhere in between, so taking the time for car care now can save headaches and money in the long run."

3 maintenance tasks to complete
Set your sights on taking care of proper vehicle maintenance before spring. Here are three areas that should be focused on for the safest, smoothest ride during the coming months. 

1. Examine wipers and lights
As the snow melts and spring rains arrive, drivers are going to have to deal with less-than-ideal driving conditions. The best way to combat this is with functioning wipers, headlights and taillights. You may need a new set of windshield wipers, particularly if the existing ones have been dealing with snow and ice. At the same time, make sure that you don't stop with just the windshield. Heavy winds and snow may have affected your vehicle's lights, moving them out of the proper alignment. Line them up correctly and double-check that there's no condensation or dirt obstructing the lights. 

2. Check the HVAC system
You've been running the car's heat all winter, and the days of air conditioning use may seem far off. But that's not an excuse to let up on maintenance. Have the heating and ventilation system thoroughly checked to ensure efficiency hasn't declined over the course of the winter. You'll also want to invest in auto air conditioning service. That way, when the warm weather does strike, you can stay comfortable and focused behind the wheel. 

3. Invest in brake service
The rain on the horizon, along with melting ice and snow piles, will create slick driving surfaces. Make sure you're taking care of any brake repair that's due. Even if these gears have been checked or replaced relatively recently, it can't hurt to have a professional look at them again. Debris, inclement weather and lots of use can wear them down quickly, and you'll want them operating at a high level on slippery roads. 

Good habits to form this spring
As the springtime rolls along, you shouldn't let up on car care or scheduled maintenance. Talk with the technicians working on your vehicle and formulate a plan for spring and summer. For instance, you may want to set a date to return to the shop and switch out snow tires for all-season wheels. It could also be a good idea to have a timeline in place for oil changes or tune ups needed in the near future. 

In between appointments, you should go the extra mile to care for your car. Start by cleaning it regularly - inside and out. Over the next few weeks, vacuum the interior to remove any road salt or dirt that may have been dragged in. You should also wash mats and swap out certain items in your emergency kit. Then you can turn your attention to the exterior. Have the automobile washed and waxed, removing any potentially harmful and rusting debris while also protecting the vehicle from the coming rains. 

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