With the spring season in swing, now’s a smart time to give our vehicles some TLC. Our cars can take a real pounding in the wintertime, but taking a few measures to spruce up our wheels can help lighten the load in the coming months.
“In the winter, cars see a lot of cold weather, a lot of salt on the roads, a lot of water that’s splashed up in places it shouldn’t go. It’s important to get that out of there so it doesn’t lead to a lot of problems down the road, says Mike Allen, a certified automotive technician and founder of SaturdayMechanic.com.
Allen’s first tip is a simple one: hand-wash your car. “Hand-washing gives you a chance to look over every square inch of your vehicle. You get to see any nicks or cuts in the paint that need to be attended to before they get worse,” says Allen. It’s essential to wash underneath your vehicle, too, especially if you live in an area where it snows. The salt from the road can rust your undercarriage, and if left unchecked, can cost you thousands of dollars later on.
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Next, Allen advises we pop open our hoods and check our car’s air filter, typically located near the front the car inside a box known as a cold air collector box.
“All of the air that goes into your engine goes through that filter,” says Allen. Lightly tap it on a hard surface to remove dirt or dust. “Cleaning it facilitates your car’s operation. Replace if necessary.”
Now’s a good time to also check your tire pressure. According to Allen if your tire pressure is six psi (pounds per square inch) below the manufacturer’s recommendation, you’re likely paying 3 percent extra for fuel.
Cleaning your car’s weather stripping will also keep water, dirt and other contaminants from infiltrating the inside of the vehicle, says Allen. “It’s important to wash it off with some soap and water, and dress it with some silicone spray so they don’t stick together.”
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Finally, keep your car light on its feet. Remove any heavy gear or objects you’re not regularly using. Get this: For every 50 pounds removed from your car, you can increase fuel efficiency by 1 percent.
So, if you find yourself spring-cleaning your home this season, don’t forget to tend to that hunk of metal in your garage. Your car will thank you for it – and so will your wallet.