Helping Your Car Transition To Spring

Posted on 07 March 2013 by Tony Santos


Lengthening days and warmer temperatures indicate that spring is on its way. Just as people start thinking about giving their homes a spring-cleaning, our vehicles need a thorough cleaning and maintenance, too. There are several things every automobile owner can do to help their cars transition to spring.

Filling out the 21st Century Insurance contest made me realize that my own car needs a thorough cleaning, and these are the steps to achieve the best results. Driving through an automatic car wash is a good way to maintain a level of cleanliness, but at least once a year a more thorough scrubbing is in order. As soon as the threat of snow has passed so that there is no more danger of highway crews spreading salt and sand on the roads, spend a few hours thoroughly cleaning the car in your driveway or designated cleaning area for your neighborhood.

Cleaning the Car

Start with a top to bottom rinse, from the roof to the bumpers and including the tires. Spray the undercarriage to soften any mud or salt residue.

Then apply an automotive grade cleanser or household dishwashing detergent with a sponge or large rag. Scrub the entire surface is short, circular strokes, starting with the roof and working your way down to the hood, windows, side panels and trunk. After the body of the car is washed, use a brush to scrub the undercarriage.

Rinse the roof, the car body and the windows before cleaning the tires to reduce the likelihood of scratching the paint and glass.  Scrub the tires and rims with a commercial cleanser. Rinse thoroughly.

Dry the car with a large soft towel to avoid water spots on the finish. Consider applying a rain repellant to the windshield, and waxing the car if the owner’s manual recommends wax. While prepping the windshield, check the wipers for wear and tear, replacing if needed. Check the surface of the windshield for any chips, nicks or cracks. These may be repaired if caught early, but if neglected can spread across the glass during temperature extremes and cause a more expensive windshield replacement.

Cleaning the car interior is important to remove grit and prevent rust. Remove the floor mats and wash them. Vacuum the seats and carpets – don’t forget the trunk. If the car has leather seats, use a soft rag and commercial cleaner specifically for leather to clean and protect the seats. Wipe down the dashboard and sideboards, and lastly, clean the windows and mirrors with glass cleaner and paper towels.

Under the Hood

A quick visual check of key areas under the hood can alert you to needed replacements. Use a flashlight to inspect all the hoses and belts. Look for any cracks, splits or soft spots and get those replaced.

Check the water level of the radiator and coolant level to make sure the antifreeze will protect the engine. Check the oil level, transmission fluid level and brake fluid levels. Replenish any fluids that are low with the formulas and grades specified in the vehicle’s owner manual.

Check the battery terminals for any corrosion, exposed wires and loose clamps. Clean and adjust or replace as needed.


Check each of the tires for proper inflation – the tire pressure recommended for your car should be listed in the owner manual. Check for any uneven wear, which indicates a possible alignment or wheel balancing problem that needs a mechanic’s attention. Worn tires should be replaced.

Paying attention to these maintenance issues and catching problems early is your key to a safer driving experience and a cost savings on most repairs.

Categorized | Car News

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