Now that springtime has arrived, you are probably thinking of taking an adventure to some far off and forbidden land or maybe just impressing your friends around the corner. Taking a road trip and following the ambitions of your heart can lead you to the world of pleasures that you are seeking (if your car is mechanically fit for the trip that is). But, even if you are stuck at home and taking a staycation, there are many reasons to polish your car into a brilliant luster, inside and out. No matter what you have in mind, you will thank yourself if you are careful to follow the springtime car maintenance tips, below.
Tip #1: Check Your Battery
The battery is the heart of your automobile. If it is weak, you will not get a clean crisp spark and will start to wear out the brushes on your alternator. The alternator will be forced to work overtime if the battery is not holding a good charge. Use a multi meter to check the DC voltage at the terminals when the car is off, idling, and after revving the engine a few times into the higher RPMs. A good battery will hold a charge over 12v and fluctuate up to about 13v when the alternator kicks in after the revving.
Tip #2: Wash Your Car
Tip #2: Wash Your Car
Spring is the perfect season to roll out the garden hose for a spring cleaning. To wash like a pro, you should buy an authentic car wash shampoo instead of using dish soap. Find a formula that will gently strip away any wax and residue so that you can apply a fresh coat of Carnauba wax or sealant. Use a wash mitt and have an extra bucket handy to rinse the soap off the mitt between sections. Always start from the top and work your way down to the hood, trunk, doors, and finally the front and rear fascias. Clean the wheels and tires separately with a brush to prevent contamination of your wash mitt.
Tip #3: Clean the Interior
You should first remove any clutter and consider purchasing a trunk organizer to store the things you really need. Once the car is decluttered, you can vacuum and sprinkle baking soda on the carpets to remove any odors. You may wish to then shampoo the carpets to remove all the built-up grime and odors that accumulated over the winter. You can use a few drops of essential oils on the dash to freshen up the scent instead of chemical air fresheners. Use products with enzymes like Febreze to eliminate the organic microbial odors in the upholstery and carpets.
This is also the perfect time to invest in new floor mats. You can go to many auto parts stores and have laser-measured floor mats manufactured and installed the same day. You should also consider investing in a set of quality seat covers if you want to protect your interior from stains, spills, grime, and odors.
Tip #5: Upgrade Your Air Filter
Now is the perfect time to add some performance flair to your vehicle. The simplest upgrade that you can make is installing a high-flow air intake filter. This will allow your engine to breathe better and improve your acceleration response dramatically. Best of all, the top performance air filters made by K&N last forever and need only be cleaned every 50,000 miles. You will appreciate the new life that this air filter adds to your engine and will benefit from more efficient combustion as well.
Tip #6: Replace Your Coolant Temperature Sensor
You should also replace your coolant temperature sensor if your vehicle is more than 5 years old. Because coolant temperature sensors are inexpensive, easy to install, and critical to proper engine performance, it is better to just replace them every 5 years or so than to bother testing them. They build up internal resistance and can throw misleading signals that don't illuminate your Check Engine light. These sensors typically screw right in or are held in place with a retainer that is easily pried off with a screwdriver. The only important thing to remember is that the repair should be done only after the vehicle has been sitting cold overnight. Otherwise, the pressurized coolant will jet out when you remove the sensor.
Tip #7: Replace Aging Fuel Components
You should also replace your fuel filter if it hasn't been replaced in a few years. A clogged fuel filter can cause a no-start issue and leave you stranded. It will also reduce the performance of your engine and cause it to sputter, chug, and stall if it is badly clogged. And if your vehicle has over 100,000 miles on it, it is probably time to replace the fuel injectors even if they are working to ensure that the fuel is being atomized optimally. Replacing these key items can make your engine run like new again.
Tip #8: Replace or Check Spark Plugs
Spark plugs typically last for as much as 100,000 miles these days if you have platinum or iridium plugs. Yet, many still prefer cheaper copper plugs because copper is a better conductor. No matter what, you should still remove plugs and check them every 30,000 miles just to keep them from seizing in the head. When you check plugs, however, you need some special tools these days to remove the coil packs or plug wires. If you don't get these tools and just tug on the wires, you could damage them internally. You must also obtain the torque specs. and a torque wrench to reinstall them correctly.