Last updated on October 23, 2019 at 10:17 am
Winter is a rough time for your car. With salted roads, potholes, snow, ice and maybe neglect (for you city dwellers), your car is probably just as excited about springtime as you are. And with April being National Car Care Month, now’s the perfect time to literally – and figuratively – wipe away winter’s dirt and grime.
Rescuing your car from winter does require some TLC, but rest assured both you and your car will be happy you took the time to do so.
De-clutter. Remove unnecessary items from inside your car. That ice scraper sitting in your trunk? Put it in the garage – hopefully you won’t need it anytime soon. Those extra scarves, gloves, hats and other clothing you’ve accumulated on your backseat? Put them with the rest of your winter clothes – they’re just a painful reminder of months past. Nothing says a “fresh start” to spring like purging your car of unneeded items.
Vacuum the inside. Starting from the top and working your way down, vacuum all interior surfaces. Before you vacuum the floor, remove the floor mats (if you have them) and thoroughly vacuum underneath. Although it may seem like the floor underneath the mat is safe, you’d be surprised by where dirt and salt can settle.
Floor mats require extra attention. Floor mats likely suffer the most from winter’s wrath. With boots constantly dragging who knows what into the car, by the end of the winter they’re usually caked with dirt and other elements. If you have rubber floor mats, great. They won’t take long to wash. However, if you have carpeted mats, it’s worth taking a power wash to them at least twice. If you don’t have a power washer, consider using one at the self-service station at a local car wash.
Give the interior a good scrub. Leather or cloth, it’s worth wiping down your seats. And while you’re at it, give the dashboard and, if you have a sedan, the surface behind the backseat a good wipe down.
…and the exterior. Some cars turn a shade of gray by winter’s end from all the snow, salt, dirt and ice that get kicked around. Whether you go the old soap in a bucket route or opt for a professional cleaning, the exterior of your car needs as much attention as the interior. Don’t forget to thoroughly clean your headlights, taillights and mirrors.
Check your wipers. By winter’s end, your wipers could be worn down. So, it might be worth investing in a new set so they aren’t scraping against your windshield for the rest of the year. While you’re at it, be sure to check the wiper fluid level.
Switch your tires. If you live in an area that suffers from long and snowy winters, you may have winter tires. Before it gets too warm, switch out the heavy-duty tires for your all-season set since the former aren’t meant for hot temperatures – you’ll get more use out of them next winter that way. Be sure to give them a good scrub before storing.
Pro tip: Before putting your all-season tires on, the coin test is a good way to check the tires’ tread-depth and determine if they’re safe to drive on.
It’s a good idea to schedule a routine tune-up with standard maintenance checks, including:
- All fluids, including the engine oil, antifreeze/coolant, power steering, brake and transmission
- Hoses and belts – make sure they’re in good shape
- Brake system – these should be inspected by a professional during a standard oil change
- Exhaust system – make sure there are no leaks
- Heating, ventilating and AC system
- Steering and suspension system
This year, spring into action and get your car running at peak performance. This list may seem daunting, but it’s better to be proactive than break down on the side of the road on account of unpreparedness.
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