We’re at that point in the year where our knees tremble at the thought of checking the weather: will there be snow? But check it we must, and it tells us that yes, spring is on its way. (The longer days tell us that, too.) Which means…time to clean your car! Below you’ll find a checklist of car maintenance tips for spring. Happy cleaning!
1. Take out everything
You may find this exhilarating or depressing, but it’s a necessary first step. Bring out your garbage and recycling bins, and if needed, lay out a tarp or some other large, waterproof blanket on the ground. Then take it all out: the extra winter clothes, toys the kids have thrown somewhere and forgotten about, garbage from under the seats, packages of plastic cutlery, even the kids’ car seats. Car maintenance tips for spring will be less effective if you don’t do this first step.
2. Get the vacuum
There’s no point on pushing around dirt when it comes to cleaning, so vacuum first. If you have a skinny nozzle attachment, use that to get into the crevices, e.g., where the seat backs meet the seats, inside cup holders, etc. Once you’re done, turn the vacuum onto anything going back into your vehicle (e.g., the kids’ car seats). But don’t put them back in yet.
3. Give the interior a good wipe down
Use whatever cleaning products are recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer, start at the top and at one end (i.e., front or back) of your vehicle’s interior and work your way down and to the other end. Working from top to bottom will help you pick up dirt as it falls. Vacuum again if you feel you need to. Then put everything back in and make sure you properly secure your kids’ safety seats.
4. Head for a car wash
Nothing says “spring maintenance” like a good cleaning. However, as tempting as it might be to wash your vehicle in the driveway, don’t. Your municipality probably has a bylaw against it, even if it doesn’t expressly forbid car washing on private property. The bylaw will be about what you can and can’t put down sewers. The sewers in your city are meant for snow and stormwater only, not soap and oil. That water won’t get treated. In Toronto, for example, the maximum fine for disposing of anything through the sewer system is $50,000. Suddenly, paying $10 or $20 for a car wash doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
5. Book your tire change and wheel alignment
If you’ve been driving with winter tires (and we hope you have been), book your tire change. When exactly to do it is always a bit of a gamble: too much driving on naked asphalt with winter tires, and you affect your gas mileage. But driving in a spring snowstorm without them is scary. Whatever you decide, though, book it now, because this time of the year is busy for service departments and garages.
And while your vehicle is up on the hoist, have your mechanic align the wheels, too. Potholes from the freeze-and-thaw of our winters can affect your wheels, and misaligned wheels will wear out your tires faster.
6. Double-check if you need any other maintenance done
Complete your spring car care checklist by reviewing your car’s maintenance schedule. Look for anything you haven’t had taken care of in a while. This could include getting your oil and other fluids checked, having any new rust treated from all that winter salt, brakes inspected…make sure your car is safe for you and your family and enjoy the wonderful upcoming spring and summer weather!