Winter is a tough season for your car. Your tire pressure is probably low, road salts have likely accumulated on the undercarriage, and potholes may have thrown off your wheel alignment. Now that winter snow has turned into spring rain, it’s time to get your ride ready for new driving challenges. And just in time—April is National Car Care Month, so give your vehicle a thorough once-over. This 15-point checklist will make sure you don’t miss a thing.
- Install new wiper blades: There’s nothing mild about winter in Chicago. Revitalize your windshield wipers so they’re ready for wet spring weather. This is a task most people can handle without a mechanic’s help.
- Top off your fluids: Speaking of windshield wipers, make sure your washer fluid is topped off. Check the coolant level as well, and if needed, add a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water while the engine is cool. Other fluids that need your attention include the engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid.
- Test the battery: Cold weather is hard on a car battery. If the engine sputters to a start, headlights seem dim, or windows roll down slowly, the battery might be dying. To avoid getting stranded, have your battery tested and replace it if the charge is getting low.
- Change the oil: While you can top off the oil when needed, an oil change and engine filter replacement is necessary once the liquid turns from honey-colored to dark brown. If you take your car in to have the battery tested, you may as well get an oil change, especially if you didn’t have one all winter.
- Replace the cabin filter: An oil change comes with an engine filter replacement, but the cabin filter is something different. This sifts the air that blows toward the driver and passengers, keeping the cabin air smelling fresh and clean. Spring is a good time to replace the cabin filter to prevent you from breathing in pollen, dirt, and dust every time you go for a ride.
- Get a car wash and wax: If your car is still holding onto road salt and grime, a good wash offers more than just cosmetic appeal—it can also help prevent corrosion. Make sure you choose a car wash that sprays down the undercarriage to remove salty buildup. Finish with wax to protect the paint and make your car shine.
- Touch up chipped paint: While you’re at it, check your car for any body damage. If ignored, exposed metal could rust and degrade. Keep a bottle of touch-up paint on hand to fix small chips. For larger dents or scrapes, you may need to take your car to an auto paint shop.
- Check the tire pressure: Tires lose 1 to 2 pounds per square inch for every 10-degree temperature drop. This means you probably topped off your tires for winter driving. Now that it’s getting warmer, keep tabs on your tire pressure to make sure it’s not any higher or lower than the recommended psi.
- Measure tire tread depth: While you’re scrutinizing your tires, check the wear bars on the tread surface. Roads are likely to be wet this spring, so make sure your tires aren’t going bald. If you can’t find the wear bars, conduct a penny test. That is, insert a penny into the tread so Lincoln’s head is facing down. If the tread isn’t deep enough to obstruct any of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires. It’s also time to change back to summer or all-season tires if you switched to snow tires last fall.
- Test the air conditioner: Don’t wait until June to find out if your air conditioner is working. If the air feels weak or lukewarm, you might need to have the AC recharged. Do so now—you’ll be glad you did when summer arrives in full force a few months from now.
- Declutter and clean out the car: Junk may have accumulated on the floor and backseat over the winter months. Take a break from spring cleaning the house, and give the car a little attention. Bring your winter gloves and hat inside, and throw away fast-food wrappers. Vacuum the seats and floors. Dust the dashboard. Wash the inside of the windows, and finish up with carpet shampoo and leather conditioner.
- Remove debris from under the hood: While you’re cleaning the car, pop the hood and trunk, checking the compartments and hinges for leaves, pine needles, and other debris. Remove these to eliminate all traces of winter from your car.
- Get a wheel alignment: Does the steering wheel vibrate excessively or feel like it’s pulling to one side? You might have hit one too many potholes this winter. A wheel alignment will help your car drive straight and true once more.
- Replace burned-out lights: The days may be getting longer, but you don’t want to get caught after dark with burned-out vehicle lights. Make sure your headlights, blinkers, and all other interior and exterior bulbs are working properly. You may need help from another person to check your brake lights.
- Don’t delay repairs following an accident: From scraped doors to dented bumpers to cracked windshields, cars can experience all kinds of damage in a collision. If you recently had a run-in with another vehicle or a stationary object, don’t put off the repair. Your quick response following the accident will restore the safety, performance, and aesthetics of your vehicle.
B&L Automotive Repairs provides professional automotive painting, frame straightening, dent repair, computer diagnostics, wheel alignment, tire mounting and balancing, and much more! Come in, call us at (773) 463-1622, or contact us online to schedule collision repair in Chicago.