You can protect your wallet from expensive car repairs with extended car warranties for automobiles, like Vehicle Repair Protection, but repairs are a hassle that can sometimes be prevented.
This past winter, an Arctic blast moved throughout the U.S. causing extreme cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. Many people hadn’t experienced similar weather in decades, or perhaps ever. What car maintenance do you have to do following a harsh winter? Here are 6 tasks that will help keep your car running great as the weather warms up.
1. Check under the hood
After any harsh winter, you should pop open the hood and go through your belts and hoses. The cold weather may have damaged your belts and hoses because cold temperatures cause rubber to harden. This makes them be less pliable, and they can eventually crack, bulge or swell up. If belts and hoses crack, they can cause problems for other components and your car can experience a breakdown. You should replace them if you see too much wear and tear.
You should also go through and check your fluids, like your engine coolant. As the temperatures rise, you can prevent your engine from overheating with the right amount of coolant.
2. Clean your car (inside and out)
Cleaning your car inside and out is essential to extend the life of your car. Despite having the best intentions to clean our cars during winter, we often end up being too cold or lazy to do it. Unfortunately, a harsh winter can result in grime, debris and salt built-up on your car.
Be sure to thoroughly clean your car inside and out as soon as you can either on your own or by going to a professional car wash. Allowing build up to remain on the surfaces of your car can cause corrosion and bring big problems to important car components.
As you clean your car, look for any signs of rust and corrosion.
3. Check tire pressure
Change of seasons change the pressure in your tires. Pressure rises and falls depending on outside temperatures. In spring, the weather begins to warm up, and since air that’s warmer expands, it’s likely to cause the air pressure in your tires to increase. This results in tires that are overinflated.
Overinflated tires can cause serious risks for you and your passengers. There are more possibilities for a blow-out and an accident. An overinflated tire is also more stiff and can get damaged more easily due to road hazards, such as potholes and debris. They’re also bound to wear out sooner.
Be sure to check the pressure of all your tires and make sure they have the correct PSI (pound per square inch) for your car.
Read our recent blog “How long do tires typically last?.
4. Replace cabin air filter
During the spring, there is plenty of pollen in the air. Your car collects pollen through the ventilation ducts. The cabin air filter, which is found on most late-model cars, is located behind the glovebox.
Cabin air filters should be changed every year (or every 12,000 to 15,000 miles), but it really depends on how much you drive and the place where you live.
Spring time is the ideal time to change your cabin filter. Remember that the inside of your car contains more gases, pollutants and allergens than outside air. Cabin air filters will cleanse the air and refresh the inside of your car and help you avoid allergy symptoms common in springtime.
5. Inspect wiper blades
The winter is likely to have caused damage to the wiper blades, especially if you experienced snow this year. During the winter, blades spend months scraping away ice and it’s only natural for them to deteriorate. If your blades are specifically designed for winter (meaning they are the ones with an extra protective layer of rubber), you will want to switch them out for normal wiper blades as well.
You’ll need good wiper blades for spring rain storms, so inspect them now for any damage. Switch them out with a new pair if necessary.
6. Check wheel alignment and suspension
Winter makes the surface of the roads a lot worse and it takes a toll on your car’s alignment.
When we speak about alignment, we’re talking about your wheel’s axle and suspension system. Ignoring your wheel alignment and suspension will affect your car’s performance, increase wear and tear of your tires, and reduce gas economy.
Overall, bad alignment will make it more difficult for you to steer your car. One clear sign that you need your wheels aligned is a steering pull, either left or right, when you let go of the wheel for a moment.
Note: When driving, there is a “normal drift” because many roads are designed to provide water drainage. You may want to look for a flat surface (such as an empty parking lot) and drive your car there to check the alignment.
How to cover maintenance and car repair costs
Proper maintenance can help keep your car in great shape throughout the year, but maintenance, like repairs, can be costly. Options like a prepaid car maintenance plan can help you better handle your costs. Consider a car repair protection plan that can also bring you discounts and savings on car maintenance while also covering your expensive repairs.
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