As winter comes to an end (fingers crossed), it’s time to give your vehicle some much-needed attention. April is National Car Care Month which brings awareness to the importance of vehicle care and preventative maintenance. From the exterior to the interior, it’s important to check all the components of your vehicle.
1. Listen, Look & Smell for Maintenance NeedsListen for any noises when you brake. You shouldn’t feel any pulling to one side, vibration, sharp grabbing, or notice any unusual smells when pressing on the brakes. Bring in your vehicle for a brake inspection is you notice any of these signs. Look for wear and tear on your wiper blades. Also, look for unusual wear to tires—bubbles or bumps in your sidewall and uneven wear on your treads. The only thing you should smell is your air freshener. A leaking muffler can send a dangerous exhaust smell into your car. Antifreeze has a sweet smell, if you’re getting a whiff of it you might need some maintenance. If your vehicle is squealing, ticking, grinding, or just plain stinky it’s probably trying to tell you something.
2. Check for RecallsYou can enter your vehicle’s identification number (VIN) on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website and it will pull up any recalls that pertain to your vehicle within the past 15 years. It’s important to take care of any recalls so that they don’t turn into a bigger problem down the road.
3. Check Fluid LevelsSpring should serve as an annual reminder to have all your fluid levels checked, refilled, or changed. The cold temperatures of winter can deplete fluid levels, so be sure to inspect (or have a trusted technician inspect) your:
- Brake fluid level
- Transmission/Transaxle fluid
- Differential fluid
- Transfer case fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Windshield wiper fluid
- Battery water
- Oil level and quality
4. Clean the Exterior, Interior, and Wash the UnderbodyA clean vehicle is a happy vehicle! When cleaning the exterior it’s important to use a soap that is specifically designed for automotive use. Dish soap, detergent, and laundry soap aren’t the best options. Bird droppings are actually very acidic and can damage your paint so it’s important to remove them quickly. Dirt and salt can build up on the underside of your vehicle. If it’s not taken care of it can get ground-in and cause irreversible damage.
5. Review These Everyday Car Care Tips!Take care of your vehicle and all its components with a little extra TLC. Here are a few simple driving tips to help extend the life of your vehicle.
- Do not rev your engine when you start your vehicle. It may sound cool but it adds unnecessary wear to your engine.
- Try to avoid accelerating quickly. This puts more stress on your engine, especially in the winter and summer when the temperatures are more extreme.
- Extend the life of your tires by avoiding fast starts, stops, turns, and potholes.
- The greatest amount of wear and tear to your vehicle happens in the first few minutes of driving, so try to limit short trips in your vehicle and combine errands when necessary.