5 Quick & Easy DIY Tips to Get Your Car Ready for Spring by Mike Johnston

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No matter how refined modern vehicles might be, cars and winter will never be able to get along. Low temperatures slow the battery chemistry and disrupt the mechanical parts. Difficult winter tracks wear out the elements much faster than the summer roads. And don’t let us start with oil, ice in the fuel lines, and other fluid-related problems.
Bottom line – when the spring finally kicks in, our cars need a lot of love and care to be able to once again go on the extended spring road trips and keep up with the higher traffic volume.

Here, we are going to cover some of the quick and easy ways to tackle these chores from the comfort of your garage and save some money during the next visit to a mechanic.

Check the brakes

As a matter of fact, you should do this before and after any long-distance road trip, but especially after a long, cold winter when you always keep your foot on the brake pad. One million brakes later and chances are the pads will be damaged to the point of failure. So, it would be good to get a flashlight and take a good look through the rims. If the pads look too thin (thinner than 1/4″), it’s time to install new ones.

Also, clean rims mean that pads are no longer wearing out and producing “brake dust” which is yet another signal for change. The same goes for grinding and growling noises coming out from under the rims.

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Make sure the tyres are in good condition
No matter whether they are spending the winter in the garage or you are using the all-season variety, tyres have a nasty habit of dropping pressure during this long, cold season. Therefore, be sure to get a decent digital gauge and check how things are going down there. Although every vehicle has its recommended pressure (check the owner’s manual), we can say that 32 to 40 PSI is the safe, recommended range.

Also, look for signs of physical damage and the depth of treads (the legal limit is 2/32 inches). If they are too worn out, check for quality tyres online and get yourself fresh replacements ASAP.

Take care of the battery

We already mentioned that batteries are one of the first victims of low winter temperatures. So, what can we do to make them spring-worthy again? For a start, it would be a good idea to get a multimeter and test the current and voltage. If the battery measures 12.6 or above, you are good to go. If not, you can push it a couple of notches above and make it safe for driving with a pair of jumper cables or a battery charger.

Either way, be sure to clean the connectors and allow them to work at 100% capacity. This small project requires only a toothbrush, some water, baking soda, and a couple of minutes of your time.

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Inspect the essential fluids

Every car uses a bunch of different fluids to cool off the working heat and make sure the mechanical parts are lubricated and run smoothly without too much grinding. Here is a short breakdown of the three most important mentions you should check when the snow finally melts:

  • Engine oil: Check with the dipstick located next to the engine. Add more if the oil is running close to minimum or after 5,000 miles since the last change.
  • Coolant: Coolant reservoirs are usually green, blue, or yellow and located close to the engine. Add more if the fluid has dropped below the „Full“ line or after 50,000 miles since the last change. Use a 50/50 water-coolant mix.
  • Brake fluid: The brake fluid reservoir is usually mounted near the firewall at the rear part of the engine compartment (somewhere near the brake pedal). Once again, refill if the fluid has dropped below the „Full“ line or 45,000 miles since the last change.

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Start dropping some weight

Some would say this project falls more into the realm of DIY car tuning but after a couple of long winter months where your car could benefit from added weight, springtime roads are better suited for lighter and nimbler vehicles. Here are a couple of things you can do to “slim the belt”:

  • Install lighter wheels
  • Drive with less fuel in your tank
  • Replace heavy electrical components (e.g. outdated car batteries can weigh up to 20-35 pounds)
  • Use lighter seats

These few simple upgrades will have a positive effect on a whole bunch of things ranging from the fuel economy to pressure on the suspension system.

We hope these few tips will help you get your car in shape after a long and exhausting winter and save some money on the next visit to a mechanic. No matter how careful we are, winter will always take a bite out of our vehicles. But, these problems are not something that can’t be solved with a bit of care, effort, and patience.

About the author: Mike Johnston is an experienced writer, blogger, and editor. He’s a regular contributor to numerous online publications, where he writes about lifestyle, travel, home improvement, and green living.