Springtime! Seven Essential Repairs and Services
Spring is upon us! It’s time for celebration… and a visit to a mechanic or dealership to get your car serviced.
The winter months can take a toll on every aspect of your vehicle. Your car’s mechanics are more susceptible to damage during the winter months, especially the metal pieces that make up the majority of your vehicle’s body. Rust and water can compromise these parts, resulting in decreased performance or a non-operating car. Plus, the vehicle just sees some general wear and tear as it travels on icy roads and over unexpected potholes. This makes a visit to the mechanic an absolute must.
Similar to most car issues, the first hurdle is actually identifying a potential problem. Luckily, we’ve compiled a car maintenance checklist that you can refer to as you inspect your car in the beginning of the spring. Then, if you ultimately have to visit car repair shops, you’ll know the specific services you need to be completed…
Remove the Salt
If you’re recovering from a rough winter, there’s a good chance that your vehicle is absolutely caked in salt. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to consistently clean your vehicle during the winter, considering the opportunity for more snow (and, vicariously, more salt). Therefore, we certainly don’t blame you if your normally black vehicle currently looks grayer.
However, spring is upon us, and snow is hopefully in the past. That means you should look to get your vehicle cleaned and polished. Leaving that salt on your vehicle can have a severe impact on all of the car’s mechanics, especially the undercarriage. The salt can contribute to rust and erosion, and you may find that several aspects of your vehicle have been compromised if you allow that salt to sit.
If the salt is excessive, you should bring your vehicle into a professional cleaner. They won’t only remove those stains from your exterior, but they’ll also eliminate the salt that’s hiding in the car’s nooks and crannies. This will at least help delay your vehicle’s inevitable demise.
Everyone’s least favorite aspect of winter driving is potholes. These pesky holes can be unavoidable, and they could actually cause some extensive damage to your vehicle.
In particular, you may find that your wheel alignment is completely out of whack, or perhaps the suspension has been damaged due to the constant strain of driving over those pesky gaps. To identify these types of issues, pay attention to your vehicle’s handling. If the car seems to drift to one direction without you manipulating the steering wheel, this may be a red flag that there’s a mechanical issue.
One of the most underappreciated contributors to successful winter driving is the tires, and you’ll find some extensive wear to the rubber following a snowy or wet season. That’s why you’ll want to assure that these tires are working up to their standards by the time spring rolls around.
The tires should definitely be rotated, which helps assure that the rubber is being evenly worn. Tire rotations are usually recommended every 5,000 miles, but you won’t do your vehicle any harm by getting the service done a bit early.
Meanwhile, if you’ve been traveling in nasty conditions during the winter months, be prepared to refill those tires. If these parts don’t have the optimal amount of air pressure, you’ll be putting yourself and your vehicle at risk. This service is generally quick and affordable, and you can do it yourself during a lunch break.
Check in on the Brakes
If you’ve been relying on your car’s brakes to prevent you from slipping and sliding on the ice, there’s a chance that this unit saw some considerable wear since the last time you gave a personal inspection.
This is a service that shouldn’t be done yourself. Bring your car into a technician and have them check up on the pads and rotors, confirming that everything is operating properly and is good to go. If there’s an issue, you should dish out the money for repairs. After all, your chance of an accident greatly increases with faulty brakes.
Check Your Fluids
This isn’t necessarily a spring-specific suggestion, but there’s a good chance that your vehicle could use a refilling following those awful winter months. It’s doubtful that you were traveling to a mechanic or a dealership to have your oil changed during those cold evenings, right?
What fluids should you be checking? Well, there’s a long list of potential oil changes you could pursue:
- Engine Oil
- Transmission Fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Windshield Washer Fluid (especially important following the winter)
If you’ve had experience repairing cars, you may be able to change these fluids yourself. However, improper technique could lead to far more serious issues down the road, so if you’re uncertain of what you’re doing, it’s best to visit a professional.
While you’re checking the status of your vehicle’s various fluids, it’d be in your best interest to also flush the transmission fluid. When this liquid stops doing its job, you’ll find that you could be compromising your car’s mechanics… and that could result in a very pricey repair.
Batteries, Plugs, Wires
If you’ve been using your vehicle throughout the winter, you’d have surely recognized if one of these parts failed to work. However, it’s still a good idea to monitor these aspects of your vehicle, especially following a brutal season.
The car’s battery, plugs, and wires all provide that initial boost the vehicle needs to operate. They see additional stress during the colder months, and older systems may have difficulties recovering. You’ll want to test these various parts when you’ve had a streak of nice weather, and if you notice any decrease in performance, you should consider getting them replaced.
There are several other parts of your vehicle that you’re going to want to check up on once the clocks roll back. For starters, you should confirm that the belts and hoses are still working properly. These parts should certainly withstand the winter conditions, but there’s no guarantee when these parts will suddenly determine that they’ve had enough. Without these parts, you’ll find that your vehicle is delivering a decrease in performance.
Meanwhile, the engine air filter helps the entire unit breath, and you’ll immediately recognize a decrease in performance if these parts are clogged or broken.
Finally, it’s generally a good idea to clean both your interior and exterior in time for the spring. Not only will you have a fresh, sparkling vehicle, but you’ll also notice a decrease in weight when all of the cargo has been removed. Believe it or not, this can actually have a positive influence on the vehicle’s fuel economy.
This may seem like a rather lengthy list, but don’t forget that you just put your vehicle through the ringer over the past few months. No matter how safely you operated your vehicle, it’s very likely that your car saw at least some damage throughout the winter. Therefore, a trip to a mechanic or a dealership’s service center is a bright idea. Even if there’s ultimately nothing wrong with your ride, you can be assured that you won’t run into any issues during those spring and summer road trips.