As the weather warms up, you may find yourself more motivated to take on (or finish up!) a few automotive projects you’ve had on your mind or in your garage. Spring is a great time to do a bit of car maintenance, and ensuring that any safety concerns or other, smaller issues are addressed before they become big issues is the cornerstone of responsible maintenance and the key to vehicle longevity.
The best springtime inspections look for the potential toll of winter and include consideration for any regularly scheduled items advised or required by your manufacturer. Get started with these suggestions.
1. A Straightforward Clean
The first thing you’re going to want to do is give your vehicle a good wash. Road salt, moisture and dirt can quickly wreak havoc on your undercarriage and suspension components, so keeping your vehicle free of these contaminants as much as possible is important. A coat of wax can help thwart new buildup for a while longer, and the shine it gives your paint is worth it on its own.
If you do find that rust has begun to creep in, you can take steps to stop it now before it spreads and becomes serious. While you’re at it, a nice clean sweep of the inside of your car before spring is also good to prevent moisture and dust buildup before pollen and mold arrive.
2. Fluid Changes
Oil and filter changes are an important part of maintenance no matter the season, but spring and fall are especially good times to schedule them, and if you intend to change oil viscosity, the shoulder season is the time to do it. Check all other fluid levels, including coolant (when the engine is cold), brake, steering, washer, and transmission.
Check for level, contamination and odd smells, and perform a fluid flush and filter change if anything is off. Make sure to give a thorough leak check, and if any of the levels are extremely off, conduct a more thorough examination to determine the cause.
3. Check the Tires
Tire pressure fluctuates with temperature, so check your tires and make sure they’re all properly inflated according to their rating. Also, look at tread wear to see if it’s time for a change and to spot any irregularities that might indicate an alignment is needed. Wintertime potholes can throw suspension out of whack, and the longer this is left uncorrected, the more damage it can do.
4. Under the Hood
Give rubber components under the hood, such as belts and hoses, the once-over. These parts can become brittle after exposure to extreme temperatures or as a result of normal prolonged use, and spring is an excellent time to check for signs that they may need replacement. Look for cracks, looseness, leaks and hardening. Signs of defects warrant replacement to avoid issues later on.
Staying on top of maintenance issues is the best way to avoid unwanted surprises, and what better time to take on projects than spring? This season, head to the garage and make sure your vehicle is ready for whatever’s next.
Check out all the filters, belts, hoses, and more available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on springtime car maintenance, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.