Spring is the perfect time to refresh and renew your vehicle. As the winter weather ends here are a few car care tips that can make that long awaited spring drive much more enjoyable.
Wash the car. Your car has been conquering salty roads and potholed terrain, so a driveway washing just isn’t going to cut it this time. I strongly suggest you take your car to a professional car wash where the vehicle undercarriage can be aggressively cleaned. That road salt and dirt has been splattered into every crevice of the underside of your vehicle. Rid your car of this rust causing menace so you can start the season fresh.
Consider replacement mats. Those mats supplied by car dealers are a nice suggestion, but you know they don’t do much to keep the floors clean. Spring is a great time to get an industrial strength mat or, even better, a custom molded mat to protect your vehicle’s carpet. It may cost more, but no dirt, salt or water will infiltrate your carpet and your interior will be protected for the life of your car.
Check the tires. If you have snow tires it’s time to change back to your regular tires. If the tread looks a little low, I recommend you take a penny and insert it down into the tread groove with Lincoln’s head facing you and pointed down. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head then your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time for some new tires. If you are not replacing tires, spring is a good time to have them rotated and balanced. When’s the last time you checked the spare tire? Be sure the tire is properly inflated in the event you get a flat. Bent rims are also a problem I see every spring. If you hit any potholes this winter, you may have a bent rim or two which can wear your tires unevenly. A smooth, even ride will result in longer tire life and better gas mileage.
Plan for emergencies. Get rid of the shovel and salt from the trunk and restock your emergency kit. I always advise stowing a flashlight with batteries, reflectors or flares and jumper cables in the trunk. If you get stuck on the road, chances are it will be a rainy, dark night so packing a waterproof jacket, water bottles and a few granola bars can make waiting for some help a lot more pleasant.
Get AAA. AAA or your car insurance roadside service could be a lifesaver if you break down on a busy road. It is one thing to fix a flat tire in your driveway but quite another when you are on a highway shoulder a few feet from speeding traffic. Check with your insurance company to see what services they offer before you need them. The yearly cost will be worth it for the peace of mind and safety it brings to your family.
Check the glove compartment. I’m sure many of you know the glove compartment was once where the driver stored a pair of driving gloves. That time is long gone, but it’s not a bad idea to keep a pair of heavy duty work gloves in there for a myriad of reasons. Changing a tire, using jumper cables or pulling a stuck branch from under your car will go smoother if your hands are protected. While you're adding the gloves, check that your car insurance card and registration are current.
Get an oil change. Regular oil changes will keep your engine clean and well lubricated, reducing the friction that wears parts in your engine. I recommend oil changes occur every 3,000 to 3,750 miles for regular oil and 7,500 miles for synthetic oil. If a vehicle has not had an oil change for more than six months, especially over the winter, I always recommend changing that stagnant oil and starting fresh with a new oil filter.
Reclaim the garage. Many garages have become the unofficial family storage unit. It’s time for your car to reclaim its rightful ownership. Excessive heat and cold can damage the exterior and even the interior of the car. Keeping your car out of those elements and in the garage will add longevity to your vehicle. Plus it’s safer. No more icy windshields to clear, no exposure to vandalism and your insurance company may offer a discount when the vehicle is garage kept.
Peyton Knight is co-owner of Knight’s Automotive Repair. Knight’s Automotive Repair, a TAPinto Roxbury sponsor, is located at 171 East Main St. in the Ledgewood section of Roxbury. Give us a call at 973-927-0114 if you need any further advice about spring maintenance, new tires, oil changes or any vehicle concerns.