The United States is one of the busiest countries in terms of road traffic with about 218 million drivers holding a valid driving license. And even if you hit the winter roads with minimal issues, it’s vital to give your car some TLC to ensure it’s safe for all of the spring adventures you have planned. Here are just a few top tips to keep in mind to keep your car safe on the roads all spring long.
Inspect Wiper Blades
Just because you use your windshield wipers more often in the winter doesn’t mean their care should be neglected come spring. Take some time to perform a quick visual inspection, looking particularly for signs of cracking and general wear. Winter ice buildup and accumulation often takes a serious toll on wiper blade durability, and during a spring rainstorm, the last thing you need is to have your vision significantly impaired by wiper issues.
Remember, this advice isn’t just for cars; it’s for commercial vehicles, too. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately 5.9 million commercial motor vehicle drivers operate in the United States, and the exponentially larger size typical of commercial vehicles means that all drivers need to take proper safety precautions and maximize visibility.
Check the Fluids
Even if you’re not particularly mechanically savvy, it’s important to take a quick look under the hood to inspect the conditions and levels of your vehicle’s fluids. Make a mental note (or better yet, write down the date or odometer number) of your last oil change and fluids check, and if something seems amiss, take it to a professional auto repair shop. There are four main functions of metalworking fluids: cooling, lubrication, chip removal, and corrosion control. That being said, if you notice any rust on your car, applying the right metalworking fluid can help to correct it: just treat the corroded bare metal with some type of corrosion preventive material, i.e., WD40. While this is something that most people with some basic automotive experience can handle, it’s always best to get professional insight anyway. You never know if there could be other issues that are only visible to the trained eye of a mechanic.
Examine Belts and Hoses
The cold temperatures associated with winter frequently cause hardening and general damage to a vehicle’s rubber components. With this in mind, it’s important to check your vehicle’s belts and hoses for some of the most common signs of damage beyond normal wear and tear:
“Check your hoses for hardening, softening, leaking, cracks, blistering, or other visual damage, and check your belts for looseness, cracks, frays, or glazing. If you have to replace one of your belts, you may also have to replace the tensioner and pulleys to keep the new belt from slipping,” says Be Car Care Aware.
Check Tire Pressure
Finally, remember that your car’s tires are the only point of contact between you and the road. Make sure to check the pressure of each tire separately, including the spare, each month. Check the owner’s manual to determine the optimal tire pressure. You should also perform a visual inspection of each tire’s tread for signs of irregular and uneven wear. And of course, be sure to rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles for maximum efficiency.
Ultimately, keeping your car properly maintained for spring starts with these basic steps. But again, it’s always a good idea to get your vehicle to a professional auto mechanic so that any potential underlying issues can be diagnosed and resolved.