How To Prepare Your Vehicle For Spring Travel

As the cold, gray, and gloomy winter nears its midpoint, its time to start planning day trips for the spring to shake off the winter blues. Freezing temperatures, ice, and road salt all take a toll on your vehicle. On the first relatively warm day, you should inspect your car for possible future maintenance needs. Things you should check include:

  • Your car battery 

Cold weather is notoriously hard on car batteries, especially older batteries. Does your vehicle start immediately or does it take several seconds? If your battery is over three years old, you should consider taking it to an auto parts store and having it checked. Most stores will perform this service for free, and take your old battery if you need a new one.

If your battery is still new, remove the battery cables from the battery terminals by loosening the nut on the cable clamp. If the terminals and the terminal clamps have white corrosive residue on them, remove it with fine sandpaper, then replace them. Check the battery cables for any bare or worn spots, and replace cables that show bare copper wire. Corrosion on battery terminals will not allow the battery to charge properly, and exposed cable wire can drain the battery if a bare wire makes contact with the body of the vehicle.

  • Hoses and belts

Cold weather can cause hoses and belts to contract, while operation of your vehicle heats them and causes them to expand. This causes stress to the rubber, and may create small cracks or thin spots. Look for these small fissures in belts and hoses. If there are numerous small fault lines or areas where thinning has occurred in hoses or belts, they should be replaced. You can buy these parts in an auto parts store, or have them replaced at an automotive repair facility like Arringdale's Engine Rebuilding & Auto Repair.

  • Wiper blades

Ice and road salt will wreak havoc on your windshield wipers. You should replace them after winter has ended. Your wiper blades may not be the same size on the driver and passenger sides of your windshield, so be sure to measure them or consult your owner's manual before purchasing new blades.

  • Hinges

Your door, trunk, and hatch hinges may be clogged with road salt residue. Use a spray lubricant designed for use on vehicles to clean and lubricate hinges. Place paper towels or a piece of cloth below hinge level to absorb excess lubricant, because it may damage the paint on the inside of the doors.

Road salt is corrosive to all parts of your vehicle. Be sure to remove it with a pressure washer from all parts of your vehicle at winter's end. Buy some new floor mats too, and show your vehicle some love, after bringing snow and salt into your vehicle all winter on the bottoms of your shoes.