After driving through a mix of slushy snow and road salt this past winter, your car is probably in need of a little TLC.
We sought out tips from auto experts at CarMax and the Car Care Council on what car owners ought to take care of before embarking on a spring road trip.
Remember, regularly keeping up with vehicle maintenance is generally less expensive than dealing with a major repair due to lack of upkeep.
7 Spring Car Care Tips
Heed this advice to keep your car in good shape for spring — and the rest of the year.
1. Remove Dead Leaves and Debris
Take the time to brush out all the dead leaves and debris that may have gathered under your hood or along your roof crevices. They could block air intakes, which may hurt your vehicle’s performance, or clog the drain holes in your sunroof gutters.
2. Remove Your Winter Tires
If you switched to winter tires to handle driving in snowy conditions, you’ll want to swap them back out in the spring. The knobbier tires may lower your car’s fuel economy. Winter tires could also kick up more dirt and debris, leading to the expense of more frequent car washes.
Looking for extra ways to improve your fuel economy? Check out these tips on how to save money on gas.
3. Rinse Off the Car’s Undercarriage
Driving over salted roads in the winter could accelerate rust forming on your car’s undercarriage over time. Auto experts recommend you splurge for an extra underside hose-off when visiting your local car wash.
4. Deodorize the Car
Riding with the windows up all winter could cause your vehicle to smell a little less than fresh. After you remove all the food wrappers and trash, leave an open container of baking soda or coffee grounds in the car overnight with the windows up. The baking soda or coffee grounds serve as a natural — and inexpensive — deodorizer.
5. Replace Worn Wiper Blades
You want maximum visibility during those spring showers. Wiper blades are typically meant to be replaced every six to 12 months. Don’t worry — they’re a cheap and easy fix. Many auto parts chains, like Advanced Auto Parts or O’Reilly Auto Parts, will install your wiper blades for free if you purchase new blades from their store.
6. Check the Tire Pressure
The cold temperatures of winter could have caused your tire pressure to drop. Tires that are underinflated could reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy. Check your owners’ manual or the sticker on the inside of the driver’s side door for the proper tire pressure for your tires. Wawa, QuikTrip and Sheetz are a few chain gas stations known for offering free air for tire inflation.
7. Get a Checkup for Your Car
A complete car checkup includes inspecting the levels and condition of fluids and filters, hoses and belts, the battery connection, the brake system and interior and exterior lighting. If you’ve got the confidence to tackle minor maintenance jobs yourself, crack open an auto-repair manual specific to your car’s model. You can save a significant amount of cash by skipping a visit to a mechanic and doing some jobs yourself.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.