Gear Up Your Vehicle for Spring: 10-Step Maintenance Checklist
May 12, 2017
Written By Adam Buckallew
Spring is here and that means driving season is right around the corner. Just as spring cleaning is a good idea for your home, it also makes sense to give your vehicle a seasonal tune-up.
“Winter can be hard on automobiles, so now’s the perfect time to perform preventive maintenance on vehicles,” says Jim Williams, a territory manager for Big O Tires. “Preventive maintenance keeps vehicles on the road longer and can save customers money in the long run.”
Williams recommends you follow this spring maintenance checklist to make sure your car is running efficiently and reliably.
1. Start with the tires
Check air pressure for all tires, including the spare, as improper pressure leads to premature wear and a decrease in fuel mileage. The entire surface of the tire, both tread and sidewall, should be inspected for uneven or irregular wear. Excessive edge wear, center wear or shoulder wear may be signs that other maintenance is required. Tread can be checked with a penny. Simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it is time to replace your tires.
2. Check the brakes
Brakes are one of the most used and abused components of a vehicle. A thin layer of the brake pad disintegrates every time brakes are applied. Replace pads or shoes before drums or rotors become damaged, and inspect pads, shoes, drums, rotors, calipers, fittings, brake hardware and the parking brake to ensure they are performing properly.
3. Look at shocks and struts
Following the traditional cold-weather pot-hole season, shocks and struts should be inspected. Shocks and struts are vital to a smooth ride and may also affect a number of related parts on a vehicle.
4. Inspect wipers
Windshield wiper blades take a beating during winter weather. Cold temperatures are hard on rubber compounds, and the slush kicked up by traffic often contains corrosive salt that can cause blades to lose their effectiveness. Inspect the wiper blades and make sure they are functioning properly so your vision is not compromised during spring showers and summer storms.
5. Check belts and hoses
Winter weather takes a toll on your vehicle’s belts and hoses, making them more likely to break. Visibly inspect them for wear. Replace glazed or frayed belts and brittle or bulging hoses.
6. Wash and wax
Road grime, dirt, debris and corrosive salt can often accumulate on a vehicle over the winter, so it is important to thoroughly wash it, including the undercarriage, once the threat of snow and ice has passed. While washing, look for any scratches or chips to be repaired to prevent rust from forming. After washing, wax your vehicle to protect the paint and finish.
7. Examine Air Filters
Vehicles have both engine and cabin air filters. Replacing a dirty engine filter allows clean, unrestricted air flow into the engine and helps ensure proper performance and a longer life. Poor air flow within the engine may also lead to greater fuel consumption. The cabin air filter prevents dust, pollen and other contaminants from entering your vehicle through the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. Most filters should be replaced once a year or every 12,000 miles.
8. Test lights and signals
Properly functioning headlights and tail lights are crucial for safe driving, especially at night or in rainy or foggy conditions. Inspect and test all exterior lights, including turn signals and hazard lights to ensure they are working as they should. Lenses should be checked for clarity at the same time.
9. Inspect the battery
Winter is hard on batteries. After a winter full of cold-morning starts, it is a good idea to check battery strength. You’ll want to make sure you have enough power to run the air conditioning and other vehicle accessories when temperatures heat up. When checking the battery, look for corroded terminals and inspect for a bulging or cracked case.
10. Maintain proper fluid levels
Automotive fluids and lubricants should be changed at factory-recommended intervals to make sure they are fresh and filled. Dirty fluids and low fluids can affect vehicular performance and lead to breakdowns.