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Top Ten list – Getting Your Car Ready For Spring

March 25, 2018


Whether DIY or at your preferred shop, make sure to start with this top ten list!

1. Change the Oil and Filter

Dirty oil is well…dirty.  Used oil contains contaminants which include combustion by-products, water from condensation and tiny metal shavings from engine wear.  You don’t want any of these sitting in your engine for extended periods.  Oil (and filter) changes are inexpensive and changing the oil means that the contaminants mentioned above won’t be recirculated over and over in the engine.  Again, follow the recommendations in your owner’s manual and those of your trusted oil change or repair shop.

2. Check Tire Pressure

Check your owner's manual for the recommended pressure for your tires. Also, look at the pressure recommendations on the driver door jam tag.   Follow those recommendations!  Remember that tire pressure moves up and down when the temperature outside goes up and down.  Always check pressure when the tires are cold (before you start driving the car).    Properly inflated tires equate to better gas mileage and maximum tire life which means better use of your dollars

3. Change Windshield Wipers and Fill Washer Fluid

Not very costly to replace but very important when you need them.  Wipers (blades/refills) vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and will last 6-12 months based on usage, weather and individual makeup.  Always use replacements designed for your vehicle model and make sure they come in full contact with the windshield.  Wiper replacements are frequently on sale so get a spare set.

Fill the wiper fluid reservoir with only wiper fluid, not water. Most oil change vendors fill and top off all fluids when you get an oil chang

4. Change the Engine air and Cabin Air Filters

These are inexpensive, but very important.  The engine air filter keeps dust and other airborne particulates from getting into the combustion chambers of the engine cylinders.  Clean air results in less wasted gas, more efficient combustion and better engine performance. Broken record here, but again check your owner’s manual for the filter change schedule.  If you live in a dusty place or encounter higher than average amounts of dust and airborne debris then take those factors into account.  Don’t forget to change the cabin air filter  - this filter removes pollutants from the air that the passengers breathe.

Tip – use a permanent marker and write the date on the filter when it was replaced, that way you won’t forget when it was changed and you will not replace it too soon.

5. Flush and Fill Your Cooling System (if needed).

Many new cars come with “long life” anti-freeze/coolant that lasts for about 5 years (or 100,000 miles). Your “mileage” may vary of course.   If your car’s coolant has not been changed for 5 years then strongly consider a change.  This procedure may be best to have a trusted shop perform since they have the expertise and the ability to catch the old coolant that is drained out.  Validate the ideal replacement with the shop and confirm via the owner’s manual/car manufacturers recommendations.   Don’t forget the flush and fill  - you do not want to be that person pulled off the road with steam coming from under the hood.

6. Check the Radiator and Gas Caps.

Visually inspect the radiator cap to make sure the gasket is not torn or damaged.  The radiator cap helps to maintain pressure in the system which keeps the coolant circulating and in doing so prevent the system from over-heating (remember that car stuck on the side of the road with steam coming from under the hood).  Only ever replace the cap with one that is recommended for your vehicle.   Like the radiator cap, visually inspect the gas cap (especially if you drop it or run over it at the gas station…;-).  The gas cap should fit tightly, always make sure to hear the “click” when you put it back on after fueling up.  A loose cap may trigger a check engine light (CEL) and may also let gasoline vapors escape.  When gas vapors escape, you are throwing money away and it is also not good for the environment

7. Check the Battery

No top ten list of automobile readiness would forget the battery.  Visually inspect the battery, and make sure that the (positive/red and negative/black) connections are tight and free of any signs of corrosion.   Most new cars have maintenance free batteries meaning that you never have to add water.  All car batteries have a finite lifespan (about 5 years, but highly variable) and they don’t always give out in cold weather or at a convenient time.  Find out what kind of battery that your car has and how old it is.

8. Wash Away salt and other road chemicals from the undercarriage.

Use your garden hose to thoroughly spray and rinse the undercarriage (the underside) of your vehicle.  If you live in the northeast especially, you want to remove any salt and road chemicals that may lead to the formation of rust (on brake lines, exhaust, car body).  Also, check your local area for commercial car wash facilities that /wash the undercarriage.

9. Clean the Interior.

Everyone likes to have a clean car interior.  Take the floor mats out, wash and rinse.  Vacuum the carpet to remove dirt, crumbs and any odor causing substance or item.  Wipe down the dash/console with cleaners made for auto interiors (fabric, leather, vinyl).  Remove any trash or debris from under the seats (it’s amazing what gets under the seats), clean the windows to remove haze or “film”.  You will be amazed how clear things look at night after cleaning the windows!

NOTE - There are many different materials in a car that need to be cleaned (leather, fabric, glass, vinyl, rubber, plastic) and many different cleaning products are required.   There is also the cost of your time.  Taking your car to a quality detailing shop may be a good investment of time and money.

Don’t forget to clean out the trunk and check the pressure in the spare tire.  Most people don’t check the spare and are very disappointed when they really need it.

10. Clean the Exterior

In the morning, evening or in a shady area (not in direct, bright sunlight), rinse your car with strong stream of water to wash away and any debris or dirt.  Then, using a bucket of water with soap (made for washing cars), wash your car from the top down with a clean sponge.  Rinse the soap off the car and rinse your sponge frequently to remove any micro dirt or grit.  Dish soap is not usually recommended for washing cars since it will remove any wax that may have been applied.  Besides, car wash soap is inexpensive.  This is a top ten list, but certainly not the only things you can do for your car.

Lastly, apply a good coat of quality car wax if you can (or have someone do it for you).   Then drive!!

Call or email the Team at Golden Rule for more information - 855-928-2424 or  [email protected]