Northern Virginia avoided a cold, icy and snowy winter with unseasonably warm temps. While the warm winter was easier on vehicles (and made many of us happy), it is still important to do a seasonal vehicle check and make sure your vehicle is prepared for the approaching spring showers and summer heat.
Since April is National Car Care Month, drivers should take this time to check the condition of their vehicles to ensure they will perform safely and dependably. Proper maintenance will help owners avoid costly repairs later. And of course, we strongly recommend following your vehicle’s maintenance schedule.
Here are a few spring driving and maintenance tips:
1) Check tire tread and compound – Make sure tires are all-season radials. With April showers approaching, tires with deep treads will accommodate accumulated water, while tires with worn treads may cause the car to hydroplane, riding up on a film of water and losing contact with the pavement – similar to driving on ice.
2) Treat windshields – Apply a rain repellant, like Aquapel or RainX to windshields. This will make water bead on the windshield so that the rain quickly rolls off, improving visibility in the rainy weather.
3) Replace worn wiper blades – It is easy and inexpensive.
4) Tires – With the temperatures getting warmer, tire pressure changes. According towww.fueleconomy.gov, under-inflated tires reduce a vehicle’s fuel efficiency by an average of 3.3 percent. Check tires monthly to make sure that they are inflated to manufacturers’ recommendations. In the warmer months it is common for tires to lose air at an even higher rate than the cooler months. But avoid over-inflating the tires since this can lead to premature or irregular tire wear. Be sure to rotate tires to extend their lifespan. For the most accurate reading it is also best to check tire pressure when tires are cool.
5) Replace the air filter – The air filter keeps dust and dirt out of cylinders; if the system is dirty, the gas mileage can decrease and engine wear can increase. With the rise in gas prices, a properly-tuned engine will help to effectively get the best gas mileage.
6) Check the air conditioning (A/C) and ventilation system – Since some A/C systems slowly seep refrigerant and require a recharge every year or two. Testing in the spring will help prevent a more urgent service if an early summer heat wave arrives. To do a basic check, test the system on a warm day; turn the system temperature as low as it will go and then turn on the A/C system and check for cold air from vents. Within five minutes or less, when the vehicle is stopped and idling, the A/C system should cool the air 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit below the exterior temperature. To check ventilation, test the blower at all speeds. Also, cycle the settings through the defrost, dash and floor vent settings and check that the air flow changes accordingly. It is recommended to run the A/C system for 5-10 minutes per month even in the winter. The refrigerant contains a lubricant for the compressor and valves. Running the system monthly helps keep everything lubricated and ready to go to work when needed.
7) Use high-quality motor oil – Protect vehicles with a quality motor oil to endure the increase in temperatures from cooler to warmer temperatures. Consider using synthetic motor oil for maximum protection.
8) Check headlights – An easy task – walk around the vehicle to be sure all light bulbs are working and bright.
9) We all know food is oftentimes the best entertainment while driving. Even better if the food item doesn’t make a mess of your car. Try turning an empty peanut butter container into a holder for celery and dip. All you have to do is fill an empty peanut butter container with an inch or two of peanut butter (or ranch dressing) and then slice up some celery sticks and stick them on top. Viola! A simple snack without sticky fingers and kid schemer all over the backseat!
Whether you are trekking across the country or just over the state line, being prepared for a road trip is always essential. Making sure your car is in tiptop shape will help to avoid any hassles and delays. Organizing activities and snacks for the road will keep both you and your kids happy. Check out the Virginia Tire & Auto Pinterest page for more tricks and tips to make your road trip the best it can be.