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Getting Started on Spring Car Maintenance

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Rough roads, harsh winter weather, salt, and sand are a reality for many drivers during the coldest months. Over time, the excess wear and tear can damage your vehicle leaving you stranded or costing you money at the auto repair shop.

5 Spring Car Maintenance Tasks to Complete ASAP

When transitioning from one season to the next, there are some specific maintenance tasks that will help you have a fun and safe summer on the road.

1. Check for Corrosion Caused by Road Salt

It may be impossible to keep your car clean throughout the winter. After the last snow, it's time to remove several month's of built-up grime.

"If you’ve been driving through snowy and slushy roads all winter, chances are you may not have bothered with regular car washes. But where there’s slush there’s salt. And salt, over time, will not only eat through paint but will even go so far as to corrode the metal components of your undercarriage. Salt is bad news for your vehicle and you should kick off every spring by getting it off of your car." -Jake McKenzie, Auto Accessories Garage

2. Look at Tire Tread Depth and Uneven Wear

As soon the ice and snow melts off your tires, check your tires for tread depth. Insert a penny, head first, between two treads. If you can see Lincoln's head, you need to think about replacing your tires. It may be tempting to wait until fall, but you are at risk of hydroplaning during a rainstorm during the spring and summer months. It's much safer to get worn tires replaces as soon as possible. If you see evidence of cracking or uneven wear, bring it to the attention of your mechanic during your next visit.

3. Check Battery Strength

You can get your battery tested at many auto parts shop for free. Replacing a weak or old battery typically costs between $100 and $300.

"Check your battery date. Many of us have nightmares about dead batteries stranding us on the side of the road during a harsh winter. However, car batteries are more likely to die in the heat of the summer, putting a damper on your road trip plans. If your battery is over three years old, get it tested," said Richard Reina, product training director CARiD.com.

4. Identify Any Damage to the underneath Side of Your Vehicle

Driving over snow and ice can cause damage to areas of your car you might not consider. Pay attention to your car's overall performance. If anything seems "off" have your mechanic check for problems. Often, if you can find an issue early, it'll be less expensive to fix. You may be able to avoid the hassle and expense of having your car towed, as well. Evidence of damage like fluid leaking onto your garage floor is cause for immediate concern.

5. Check for Worn Windshield Wiper Blades

No one wants to experience the frustration and terror of driving through a rainstorm with windshield wipers that don't make full contact. Visually inspect yours for breaks and unevenness along the rubber edge and remember to top off your fluid.

Drivers who feel comfortable conducting a hands-on post-winter inspection of their vehicle probably don't need to make a special end-of-winter trip to their mechanic.

Many auto repair shops offer a special deal on a "spring tune-up". Before you make an appointment, verify that the service is worth having someone else perform. If they are just checking fluid levels and tread depth, you may want to go the DIY route. Reina says, "Unless you feel there is something more seriously wrong with your vehicle, you can save a lot of money by keeping up with basic maintenance in between inspections."

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