Spring Car Maintenance Checklist
Let’s face it. Maryland winters can be tough on your car. Extreme temperatures, snow, ice, muck, potholes – the list of hazards goes on. That’s why come springtime, it’s a good idea to give your vehicle some TLC, both inside and out. Some of these things you can do yourself, while others are a job for your local auto repair shop.
Let’s get started.
Exterior Car Maintenance
There are several things you can do to your car’s exterior to not only make it look better but protect it and make it safer.
1. Get Cleaning
If you’re like most of us, your vehicle looks pretty gross by the time spring rolls around. That’s why the first order of business come springtime is to give your car a good wash and detailing. This involves more than going to the local carwash.
You can do this at home, or a car wash, but it involves you more than a machine. Hose down the outside of the car, making sure to spray underneath the car and into the wheel wells. This will help wash away the salt and grime from winter. Wipe the tires and wheels down with an old rag or mitt.
Then, use car-washing soap and a wet sponge to wash your vehicle’s exterior from the top down. Dry the car thoroughly with soft towels, and then rub in some automotive wax with a soft cloth to protect the finish.
2. Check/Replace Your Windshield Wiper Blades
Your windshield wipers do a lot of work during the winter with all the rain, snow, and ice we get here in Maryland. And then you may just spray the wiper fluid and run the wipers to help clear salt spray off the windshield. If you’ve replaced the wiper blades within the last 6 months, you probably don’t need to replace them just yet. If they make a dragging noise going across the windshield or leave streaks, it’s probably time to replace them.
3. Clean Your Headlights/Replace the Bulbs
If you’ve had a hard time seeing at night, it may be that your headlights are dirty or hazy. Try cleaning them with a soft toothbrush and a baking soda and water mixture. Rinse carefully. This should brighten them. There are also products you can buy at auto parts stores. Consider repeating the process on your tail lights. This is also a good time to make sure all of the bulbs are working. If they’re not, replace the burnt-out bulbs.
4. Check the Tires
Spring is also an excellent time to check the tread on your tires. Go around and look at all four tires, and do the penny test. Place a penny in the tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head sticks out, you should schedule tire replacement. Take this time to check the tire pressure as well, and bump it up to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Underinflated tires wear out faster and can reduce your gas mileage – and no one has the money for that!
Interior Car Maintenance
Now it’s time to move to the inside of your car.
5. Start Spring Cleaning
Now it’s time to clean out the interior of your car. If you’re a packrat, this may take a little longer. Get a bag for trash, one for recyclables, and a crate for stuff you want to put back in the car. Empty everything out of the car. Remove the floor mats, and shake them out. Then hose them down and use a gentle brush and gentle soap if there are stains. Let them dry in the sun.
Vacuum the whole interior, using the attachments to get into every nook and cranny. Wipe down the steering wheel, dashboard, doors, and windows with car-safe cleaning products. Leave the doors open to let the car air out. Once the mats are dry, vacuum them and put them back in the car. Put the stuff you need in the car back in.
Under the Hood Car Maintenance
So far, the spring maintenance checklist has involved things you can do yourself. Next, we move on to things best suited for your auto mechanic at your local auto repair shop.
6. Get an Oil Change and Oil Filter Change
You should get an oil change and oil filter change just about every 3 months or 3,000 miles. Motor oil lubricates your car’s engine and keeps it running smoothly. Older motor oil degrades and doesn’t do its job as it should. So stay on top of those oil changes, and your car will thank you!
7. Check all the Fluids
Spring is also a good time to check all the fluids. You can add wiper fluid pretty easily by yourself, but a mechanic is best suited to check and replenish the other fluids. These include:
- Power steering fluid
- Brake fluid
- Transmission fluid
If you notice puddles of fluid in your driveway or garage that you know are not water, you may have a leak. Make it a point to get that checked out.
8. Check Hoses and Belts
Another part of spring car maintenance is checking all of the hoses and belts. These can deteriorate over time and should be replaced before they break.
9. Get a Tune-up
Another car maintenance task is a tune-up. This includes checking and replacing the battery if needed, as well as checking your vehicle’s engine, powertrain, fuel, ignition, and emissions systems. Older cars should get a tune-up once a year, and spring is a great time to do that. Newer cars won’t need a tune-up every year.
Under the Vehicle Car Maintenance
And finally, we come to the undercarriage of your vehicle. This is also an area of expertise for your local auto repair shop, and they should:
10. Check the Brakes
Your rakes can get more of a workout in the winter, as you try to avoid icy spots or hitting other vehicles on a slick roadway. Have your auto mechanic check the brake system, including brake pads, rotors, and drums.
11. Check the Shocks and Struts
Rough roads and potholes that come with winter in Maryland can also cause trouble for your shocks and struts. This in turn can cause your vehicle to sway in turns, have the front end dive when braking, have the front or rear end sit lower than the other end.
This may all seem like a lot, but this car maintenance is all necessary to help keep your vehicle running at top performance. Not only does that make it more fun to drive, but it will make your tires last longer, your engine last longer, and give you better gas mileage.
In Maryland, since you only have to get your car inspected when you buy it or move into the state from out of state, you must make a habit of taking care of all of these car maintenance issues regularly. In other nearby states, such as Pennsylvania, car owners are required to get an annual inspection, they use the inspection as sort of their annual maintenance appointment.
Schedule Your Car Maintenance Appointment Today
Avoid costly auto repair bills by getting regular car maintenance. It will keep your vehicle on the road and running smoothly. Whether you drive a car, pickup, SUV, or minivan, we’ve got you covered. Make an appointment at our Bel Air or Joppa auto repair shop and we’ll take care of everything, all at competitive pricing. Call (410) 893-6792 in Bel Air and (410) 679-0091 in Joppa.