For most of the country, winter has held its tight grip for a while. Snow blankets the cities and countryside, and frigid temperatures, compliments of pesky polar vortexes, continue their torture. The good news is, there are signs of spring emerging, and we can rest assured the sun will rise higher in the sky each day.
Along with higher temperatures and longer days comes the itch for travel. Road trips set for places unknown, drives to destinations never traveled before. Or, a simple jaunt across town to check out a spring bulb festival. Either way, you want to be sure your car is in good working order after a long and draining winter. Cold temperatures, strong winds, and mixed precipitation can take a heavy toll on not only the car’s appearance but on its performance as well.
There are many things to do to your car to prepare it for spring travel. The most important of which is to research the cheapest car insurance so that you can be sure to have the coverage that best aligns with you and your family’s lifestyle. Elements to consider include commute length, travel frequency, age of drivers, the age of the car itself, and the safety features on the vehicle.
Check the Windshield Wiper Blades
With spring come rain showers, so be sure your windshield wipers are in good shape to get you through the rainy season. If the wipers make a squeaking noise when they drag across the windshield, leave a streak or are cracked or worn in any way, replace them immediately.
Check the Tires
Tire pressure should be checked once a month, with a daily visual check before heading out for a drive. You don’t want to suddenly hear the cyclic thump of a flat tire when you’re miles from home. Check the tire tread for depth and uneven wear, as well as bruising and cuts in the sidewalls of the tire. Get the tires rotated once every 15,000 miles or so, and replace them completely if they are damaged.
Check the Lighting
Vehicle lighting is a crucial element to safe driving. If the lights aren’t functioning properly, other drivers won’t be able to see you, easily causing an accident. Be sure the headlights are strong and well aligned to the horizon, the bright setting is working correctly, parking lights, fog lights, and brake lights are all in good, working condition. Interior lighting is also important, so check those connections, too.
Change the Oil and Oil Filter
Winter causes a lot of stress on a vehicle’s engine. Changing the oil and oil filter gives the car an influx of new ‘blood’ and fresh ‘lungs’ to breathe. Be sure to have the oil changed every three months or every 3,000 miles, though due to the high functionality of modern lubricants, it’s possible to extend that to 5 or even 7,500 miles. Keep an eye on the level and color of the oil before assuming you can postpone it.
Check the Fluids
A car is a complex system that involves many fluids that help make it work properly. While you’re getting your oil changed, get all of your fluid levels checked and topped off, if necessary. These include windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluids, brake fluid, power steering, and coolant. Be prepared for some of the fluids needing to be flushed rather than topped off.
Check the Charging System
The battery is vulnerable to temperatures below freezing, so now is the time to make sure it is in good working order and won’t leave you stranded. Have the battery tested for a proper amount of charge, and make sure the connections are tight, clean, and corrosion-free. The battery should also be properly mounted.
Check the Brakes
A lot of starting, stopping, slowing down and driving over pot holes can take a huge toll on the brake system. Take a drive with the radio off and listen for braking noises that are unusual, feel rough or sound noisy. If there are any questions, contact your mechanic.
Check the Belts and Hoses
Cold weather is bad enough for human skin; imagine what it can do to rubber belts and hoses. The frigid temperatures can easily harden and damage rubber fittings, creating frays, cracks, and loose belts. Give the system a once over to check for leaking, blistering, cracks, softening, hardening, and any other damage.
The birds are finally heralding the coming of spring, and it’s time to venture out of the house for road trip adventures. Be certain your car is in perfect working condition by taking the time to check all of the necessary components, and arming yourself with car insurance that perfectly suits you!