Don’t let your eyes fool you. Though the snow keeps falling (in record amounts throughout the Northeast), Spring is just around the corner. Beyond needing to quietly accept that your body may, in fact, never be beach-ready, you would be wise to consider the fact that, just as you adapt your lifestyle to the new weather, your car needs some love too. Winter weather can wear down your vehicle a lot more than you may think. Not sure where to start? Not a problem. We’ve put together a few helpful suggestions to get your car in shape for the warm months ahead.
Exterior & Interior
First and foremost, it’s a good idea to have your vehicle’s exterior thoroughly cleaned, as the grime from winter roads can do a number on the paint job. Make sure to verify that the vehicle’s undercarriage has been washed clean of the corrosive road salt laid down to give your vehicle more traction when there is ice on the road. It’s also not a bad idea to both thoroughly clean and vacuum the interior of your vehicle, as road salt is bound to get onto the floor mats, and can lead to equally aggravating damage to the flooring of your car. Also, check your windshield wiper blades. Typically, Spring is a good time to get these changed to prepare for the April Showers. Check your trunk to see if there is anything winter-specific that you can remove from the vehicle. Drivers often store a number of items in the trunk during colder months, such as sandbags, shovels, or simple winter emergency equipment.
Most auto service shops offer spring checkup specials, so be sure to check with your local mechanics for the latest details. But if you are a do-it-yourselfer, check all of your engine’s fluids, the belts and hoses, and check the spark plugs. Cold weather can often be hard on the initiating components of a vehicle, such as the starter and the alternator. It’s also a good idea to check the battery itself to ensure that posts and connections are free from corrosion.
If you’re like me, when winter comes, it means there’s going to be a lot of slamming on your brakes as you stubbornly refuse to accept that weather conditions change the road beneath you. As such, having your brake pads and rotors checked should be a high priority, to ensure your continued safety on the road.
Cold weather can often lead to decreased pressure in your tires. Make sure to take the time to inspect all four, and fill them up as needed. Otherwise, you may be dealing with a flat in the near future. Beyond pressure, it is also important to check your tire tread, as there is a higher likelihood that they have worn down after winter months. A good rule of thumb is to find a quarter, and place it in the tread so that George Washington’s head is upside down. If you can see the top of his head, that means the tread is too worn. If you can see his teeth, you’ll probably be freaked out and floss more.
Suspension & Alignment
One of the most aggravating parts of driving in the winter has to do with elements beyond your control. Often, as the snow piles onto the road and turns into ice, the result is potholes. Potholes everywhere. These potholes can seriously damage your car’s alignment & suspension. If your steering wheel begins to vibrate, or the car is drifting to a side, it’s time to visit a mechanic. If your car lifts off of the ground and takes you on a magical voyage over the countryside, it’s good practice to keep it to yourself. Nobody will ever believe you or, if they do, they’re going to take your magic car; and let me tell you. It’s better to have never had a magical car than to have one and lose it to your older brother in a poker game. Pretty sure that’s a Judy Bloom quote.
So there you have it. A few simple tips that ensure your ability to leave winter firmly in the past, so far as your vehicle goes. Here’s to the warm weather looming just ahead!
Do you have any annual rituals to prepare your vehicle for spring? Let us know in the comments!