Winter is the coldest season on earth. Everyone covers themselves in thick garments from head to toe for protection from the cold. But what about cars? Unfortunately, cars are oftentimes exposed to many of the harsh conditions that winter brings. Imagine the extreme weather that cars face, threatening paint, wipers, the underbody, and the engine.
When winter ends and spring begins, many people need to take some time, tuning up their car. It takes effort to check the car for damages brought on by winter and to wash off all of the sand and salt but it’s worth it. A well maintained car, not only lasts longer, you’ll spend much less in repairs over time. Here’s a to-do list to help you get your car all ready for spring.
Start by Cleaning the Underbody Thoroughly
The underside of the car is most often overlooked however it’s important to keep clean, especially after being exposed to salt. A neglected underbody can become damaged if left unchecked long-term because of residues that cause corrosion. To keep your car’s underbody in good condition, you’ll want to give it a good power wash. Baking soda, water, and a tooth brush can also be good for removing trickier residues that the power wash isn’t able to get at. You can even use a jack to elevate your car, giving you a better angle for cleaning the undercarriage thoroughly.
How to protect the Car’s Exterior
Large amounts of sand and salt from the winter season can ruin your car paint, making it lack luster come spring time. You’ll want to clean off all of the stuck-on dirt covering the car’s outer body. You can wash your cars outer body using normal soap and water.
Once your car’s exterior has been cleaned, you’ll be able to repaint areas where the paint has been scratched. You may even decide to repaint the entire car if it’s been many years since your last paint job. It’s important to cover up any unpainted parts, since exposed metal attracts rust. You can do the paint job on your own by finding the matching paint color at your local auto shop and then applying it with a toothpick, touch-up pen, or other tool. If you’re inexperienced or don’t have the time, you can get a professional to do paint touch-ups at your local auto shop.
Next, you’ll want to get the surface of your car looking smooth using car polish. The polish will improve the look of the paint by covering up any swirls, scratches, rock chips, and other markings. You can do the polish yourself with a finishing pad and then apply it evenly over the surface of the car paint. Make sure to clean every part of the car’s exterior after finishing with the polish, using a damp microfiber cloth. You can also get car polish applied by a professional at your local auto shop.
While polish removes imperfections on car paint, wax will give your car’s exterior that shiny new look. It’ll also provide the paint with UV protection, keeping it safe from the sun’s rays over the spring and summer. For a perfect finish, you’ll want to wax the car. When you’re about to wax the car make sure that it’s out of direct sunlight. Otherwise, the wax could dry up and become difficult to buff off. The best place to do the wax job is inside a garage. A couple important tips to keep in mind, when it comes to applying car wax are as follows. Make sure that the car’s exterior is completely dry prior to the wax application and only apply a very thin coat of wax. You can use a poly foam applicator to apply the wax and then buff it off, using a microfiber towel. If you’re unable to do the wax job on your own, then you can get it done at your local auto shop.
If you like the idea of cleaning and maintaining your car, yet lack experience, then you’re in luck. You can find a lot of great videos on YouTube video that provide a thorough explanation of how to do the different car cleaning tasks. If you want to get some good quality products for your car, then you can browse for them here. If you ever feel doubtful about your ability to do work on your car, then it’s wise to get a professional to help you, since misused cleaning products can do more harm than good, causing damage to your car.
How to Clean the Door Panels
The car’s door panel often gets neglected, yet it’s a very important part of your car. It includes the framework for the door that houses the arm rest, the door handle, and the electronics that power the window and sometimes the light buttons. It’s usually covered in some material, like leather or suede. The door panel is very simple to clean and you can use the following procedure to do the task:
1. Vacuum cleaner
Start by using a vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and debris on the door panel. Make sure to also attach a crevice device to the end of the vacuum hose, so that it fits inside tight cubbyholes and cavities.
2. Air compressor
If you’re looking for a professional finish, consider using an air compressor. This machine will blow out pressured air and remove hard-to-get-at dirt and dust. Make sure to wear a mask to protect your face from the debris that will fly out.
3. Vinyl cleaner
For the vinyl covering on your door panel, you’ll need the specific cleansers, made for cleaning this type of material. You can apply the cleanser, using a microfiber or cotton cloth, as well as any brush with soft bristles.
4. Let dry
Consider leaving the windows or doors open for a couple minutes to let them dry out.
Clean the Window Channels
What you need for cleaning your windows are special window cleaners and a microfiber cloth. You’ll want to choose an appropriate cleaner for automotive glass, since regular Windex has ammonia, which tends to leave streaks. You can clean your car’s windows just like you’d clean any windows in your home.
When you’re done cleaning the glass and it’s finished drying, you may consider applying silicone spray to lubricate the window channels. This is important to do often, especially if you have power windows, since it keeps them clear of debris that can stress the motor and regulator. Apply the silicon generously along the window run when your window has been powered all the way down. Once you’ve applied enough silicon spray and let it sit for about a minute, power your window up and down a few times to spread the product throughout the window channel. Your windows will be perfectly clean and you’ll never have to worry about them sticking or the power windows malfunctioning.
Clean the Car Seats
Everyone who’s owned a car throughout an entire winter knows how tricky it is to keep the interior clean. One of the most satisfying parts of the car’s interior, to have cleaned, is the seats. Over winter they collect dust, food particles, and can also be left with stains. Generally, it’s advisable to follow your car’s manual on how to clean your car seats due to the differences in materials that can make up each cabin. However, you can refer to the following procedure to guide you through cleaning your suede and vinyl seats, so that they’re all ready for your springtime travels.
- Vacuum cleaner
- Brush with soft bristles and soap
- Two-in-one brush and soap
- Cloth, soap, and water
You’ll want to start cleaning your car’s suede seats by going over them with a vacuum to remove as much of the loose dust and debris as possible. Next you can either use a brush and soap to scrub out the harder to get dirt and stains. You can make your own soap by mixing four tablespoons of baking soda in a cup of water. Once you’ve scrubbed your seats thoroughly, you can take a dry cloth and wipe up all the soapy dirt for a nice, clean finish. If your seats were very soiled before cleaning, you may want to go over them a second time with the brush and soap.
Vinyl seats require much less elbow grease to clean than suede. All you need to do to clean vinyl seats is to wipe them with some soap and water, using a wash cloth.
Clean the Car Mats
Car mats are usually removable and made of rubber. You can take them out of your car and wipe them down with some soap and water. Let them dry and then put them back in the car.
Clean the Seat Straps
You may also want to clean the seat straps. You can do so by using a wash cloth and some soapy water, and then wiping them down.
Change Wiper Blades
Your wiper blades tend to take a toll over the winter months. They get taxed from having to wipe off heavy loads of snow and ice. Spring is the perfect season to change your wiper blades, since you don’t have to worry about there being anymore snow. You can replace the blades on your own however if you need assistance you can go to your local auto shop.
Change from Winter Tires to All-Season Tires
If you were using winter tires, you’ll need to change them, and get all-season tires. You don’t want to use winter tires in the spring, since they’re too soft for warmer weather and will stick to the road. They’re also not made for wet roads, like all-season and summer tires are. Once you’ve changed your tires, you’ll want to check that they have the right pressure, to maximize the lifespan of your car’s tires.
Change Fluids and Oil Filter
Severe cold weather can put a major stress on the engine lubrication system of your car. You’re supposed to change your oil fairly often, about four times a year, and spring can be a good time to do your next oil change. Car oil is one of the most important aspects of your car’s engine health, since it helps the engine parts work smoothly, transfers heat away from the engine, and filters debris. You can find easy-to-follow instructions on how to change your oil online, as well as look for YouTube videos to avoid paying for the regular oil change. However, the task of changing the oil can be messy and requires all of the right tools, so some might opt to go to the auto shop to get the job done.
Other Possible Changes
There are a few remaining parts of your car that will need checking, just in case they need to be replaced, ensuring good spring driving. Check out the following automotive parts, including the estimated mileage on them. This indicates how much distance you can get out of the parts before they need to be replaced.
- Spark plugs should be replaced every 100,000 miles.
- Air filter should be replaced every 15,000-30,000 miles.
- Radiator fluid should be replaced every 24,000-36,000 miles.
- Brake pads and rotors should be replaced every 15,000-70,000 miles.
- Battery should be replaced every three years.
Now, you’re all set for spring driving
Every time you travel, be it for pleasure or for your daily routine, it’s safest to drive a car that’s been well-maintained. The changing of the seasons is a great reminder to tune up your vehicle and a little effort and knowledge is all it takes to do so. Whenever you don’t feel confident about your ability to do the work on your car, your next best option is to spend money on getting a professional to do it. This way, you can take care of your car without having to worry about damaging it, costing you less money down the line. Taking care of all of the little maintenance jobs mentioned here, may seem like a daunting task however it’ll guarantee you good driving for the beautiful spring and summer months.