Spring cleaning tips for your car

March 31, 2014 12:00 AM

Now that spring is in full swing, it's time to get your car into cleaner condition. It's likely that over the winter months, you may have let some clutter and dust build up - and not only do these elements make the environment in your vehicle less comfortable, but they can also get in the way of your driving quality. By cleaning your car out on a regular basis and keeping up with scheduled maintenance, you can extend the life of your vehicle, minimize any need for auto repair and ensure a smoother, safer ride. Not only that, but you can also improve the appeal of your automobile and potentially increase the resale value in the process. Still not convinced? An infographic from The Allstate Blog revealed that steering wheels and trunks have an average of 450 bacteria and 650 bacteria per square inch, respectively.

Here are some tips to get your started.

First, eliminate any unnecessary cargo and junk from your car that could be slowing it down, hindering fuel efficiency and getting in the way of your visibility. Keep a trash bag on hand and separate these items into two piles: objects you should move to your home or another space for storage, and those that you can toss. Don't forget to check in the seatback pockets and the trunk.

It's important to vacuum the inside of your automobile to get rid of any crumbs, dust, allergens and other particles that might negatively affect the air quality in your car cabin or attract insects. Remember to pick up the floor mats and get underneath them, and also vacuum under the seats.

Next, Popular Mechanics suggested scrubbing the carpets as well as power-washing the floor mats. These mats experience the most abuse during the winter time, and if they aren't cleaned properly, can act like a sponge for moisture and dirt. This can create a breeding ground for mildew and also promote rusting. The source suggested making two passes with a power washer on carpeted mats to ensure all the salt and grime is gone. Additionally, it's crucial to ensure they're completely dry before replacing them or you could risk mold growth.

Notice any stubborn stains? Consumer Reports advises renting a steam cleaner, though a traditional spray bottle of carpet cleaner will likely do the trick. You can get the dash to sparkle by applying a mild cleaner onto a microfiber cloth. The news outlet stressed that you should use cleaners specifically formulated for the surface, whether leather, glass or otherwise.

It's easy to overlook the underside of your car and in the wheel wells, but AccuWeather explained that this is a critical step for eliminating road salt that has accumulated from winter driving. The source noted that this salt can lead to corrosion, negatively impacting the exhaust system, muffler systems and overall frame. However, the news outlet advised never cleaning the exterior in direct sunlight, as it can make the paint wear down faster.

While you're taking a look under the vehicle, AutoStream recommended keeping an eye out for signs of rust, as well as any dents or marks. You can bring these to the attention of a mechanic next time you're getting a tune up, as they may have some suggestions for minimizing additional damage in the future.

You'll definitely need those windshield wiper blades when spring showers start falling, so you may want to replace them. Consumer Reports noted that most blades should be swapped out every six months, but wiping them with glass cleaner and a soft cloth can make them last longer.

Checking your engine oil is another must. If you notice that the color is lighter than usual, you may need to seek professional assistance as this could suggest an engine problem. Regularly checking the fluids can help you to keep on top of when an oil change is necessary.

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