Your Vehicle Needs a Spring Check-Up

Just about everyone knows how important it is to winterize a vehicle.

Cold weather can negatively affect car batteries and lower tire pressure. Snow can negatively affect how your tires grip the road. Ice can negatively affect your windshield view.

But fewer drivers think about getting their cars ready for the spring and summer. They’re so glad winter is over that they just assume their vehicles will run smoothly until it gets cold again. With little to no maintenance.

Nothing can be farther from the truth. In fact, this past winter probably did some damage to your vehicle that should be looked at.

And even if not, upcoming hot weather can be just as bad on your car as cold weather. In some cases, even worse.

A thorough going-over

So, taking your vehicle to your favorite service station for a spring check-up – or having a trusted mechanic give it a thorough going-over – is a great idea.

Among the things you’ll want checked out are the car’s cooling system and air conditioner. As well as the suspension, tires, front-end alignment and engine performance.

Even though you shouldn’t have to deal with snow until the fall, tire condition is still very important. Your tires need to be properly inflated and have enough tread to handle wet roads.

Try to avoid driving during lightning storms. Even though it’s unlikely your car will be struck by lightning, it’s not a chance worth taking. Vehicles hit by lightning can experience both external and internal damage.

Batteries hate heat more than cold

Rich White is the executive director for the Car Care Council. Here’s what he says about cars and hot weather.

“Summer heat is the real culprit. Many battery problems start long before the temperatures drop. Heat, more than cold, shortens battery life.”

And that explains why batteries in hot climates are expected to last only 30 months. Batteries in cold climates have an average life expectancy of 51 months.

Why? Because batteries contain liquid, and heat causes some of that liquid to evaporate. Low fluid levels then damage the battery’s internal structure.

Battery maintenance tips

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your car battery. They’re from ConsumerAffairs.com.

  • Make sure your battery is charging at the right rate. More than two-thirds of America drivers never proactively get their car battery tested.
  • Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt and engine grease can build up, which can drain battery power as they serve as a conductor.
  • Watch for corrosion accumulating on battery terminals. Corrosion is frequently blue, and it can reduce the flow of the current.
  • When you eventually replace your car battery, make sure the new one is rated at least as high as the one being replaced.

Road trip preparation

Summer is the season when many people take road trips. And while it’s still early spring, summer will be here before we know it.

Here are some suggestions as you approach your departure date for your summer road trip. Have your mechanic check your vehicle’s…

  • Tire tread
  • Tire pressure
  • Oil level
  • Washer fluid
  • Light bulbs
  • Battery
  • Brakes
  • Belts

As with preparedness in general, maintenance is important for your vehicle. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere this spring or summer because you did not provide your car with the spring check-up it probably needs.

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