How to take care of your car after winter? tips
Winter is the most difficult time to operate your car. When it ends, it is necessary to check the technical condition of the car and take a number of necessary measures. Possible negligence can lead to many undesirable consequences.
Inspection of the car after winter – what is worth doing?
Enjoying the first rays of the spring sun, we should not forget about our car, for which the long winter months have become a real test. Proper preparation for spring should consist of two main activities – checking the technical condition and proper care of the car body and interior. It is worthwhile to start with the technical condition, as it directly affects the safety of driving and the possibility of trouble-free operation of the car.
In winter you have to drive on wet or snowy roads, which are often sprinkled with sand or salt. These conditions place special demands on the car’s braking system. After the winter it is worth going to the car service to check and, if necessary, clean the components of the system – brake calipers, discs and pads. You can combine this activity with the seasonal change of winter tires for summer ones.
When should I change summer tires? Car experts recommend doing it when the air temperature exceeds 7 degrees Celsius. Above this temperature, winter tires behave worse on the road due to the composition of the rubber mixture that makes up their tread. The rubber material of winter tires becomes too soft at high temperatures and therefore does not provide sufficient braking distance or cornering ability. However, summer tires should not be changed too soon during the first warm days of the year. If we are already wearing summer tires when winter suddenly arrives, we can get into dangerous road situations.
Check your car’s fluids in the spring
What other parts of the car should be checked after winter? It’s worth checking the fluid levels. In addition to the engine oil level, you should also check the coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. If any of these fluids are below the minimum level, you should top up or replace them:
- The brake fluid should be replaced every 2 to 3 years or 40 to 50,000 miles.
- The coolant should be changed first time after 5 years, then every 2 to 3 years (depending on the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations)
- Power steering fluid should be changed every 60-80 thousand km.
In addition to fluids, it is also worth checking the suspension of the car. In winter the roads often have potholes, which we often drive into – whether we want it or not. By checking the shock absorbers, springs and rocker arms, we can avoid unexpected breakdowns on the road, and the possible replacement of parts can increase driving comfort.
It’s also worth checking the condition of the air conditioning system in the spring. In winter, many drivers don’t use the system at all, so they only find out about it not working during the first warm days of the year. When the air conditioner in our car is not working, there is a big chance of refrigerant leakage. In winter, the risk of air conditioner leakage is higher because of the prevailing low temperatures. They occur most often in the air conditioner (condenser) and fasteners.
Washing your car after winter – how to do it right
Early spring is a good time to start washing and grooming your car. It is usually difficult to wash your car in the winter because of the low temperatures. Most drivers do it much less often in the winter than at other times of the year. Why is it so important to wash your car thoroughly after winter? Mainly because of the winter dirt, which is destructive to the paintwork and components of the car. The most problematic residue is road salt, which remains under the chassis, in the wheel arches and on the lower parts of the body, which over time can cause corrosion.
Car Wash Equipment
Where do you start for a spring wash? It’s best to thoroughly wash the body and wheel wells with high-pressure water. When we wash off the thick layer of dirt, we can move on to a more thorough cleaning of the bodywork. Equip your own car wash kit in advance. You need to find a good quality sponge. An alternative is a car wash brush – but make sure it’s a brush designed for contact with paint. Modern car paint tends to scratch when in contact with overly sharp bristles. Car shampoo is also an essential part of the kit. It is up to us to choose the right product. Remember, however, that we must not wash the car with laundry detergent or any other product not designed for cars. Thoroughly wipe the car with a sponge, rinse thoroughly the remaining liquid and preferably dry the body. When we have hard water, we should do it by hand with a microfiber cloth. Drying hard water even on the paintwork can leave unsightly streaks.
Protect your car’s color in the springtime
Spring is also a good time to care for your car. At this time we can thoroughly clean the windows with a special liquid and brush, protect and polish the seals in the car with a special product, and distribute the paint with a wax. Driving is an activity that requires some practice. Therefore, if you are not ready, give the car to a professional car service. However, there are many cosmetic products on the market that allow us to safely polish and wax the car, created for home use. With them, we can be sure that we will not damage the car. Waxing not only improves its appearance, but also increases its resistance to scratches and fading. However, this lesson should be repeated regularly, especially in the fall – before the next winter season.
Caring for your car after winter: Five tips
Late March to early April is a good time to check your car after a tough winter season. Of course, if the car passed all winter without problems, then you should not expect much trouble from it in summer. However you should give the car a day off (and cases, as you know, are different).
It’s very good, if you have planned the intervals of service in such a way, that you planned it in spring, then: if the car drives about 2 000 km a month, and oil, liquids and filters were changed in October (when preparing for winter period), then it is necessary to repeat maintenance only in April. But if there are no coincidences, a little prophylaxis won’t hurt.
Attention to business
It is no secret that in winter streets are sprinkled not only with salt, but also aggressive reagents, which lead to the formation of rust on the body (this substance leaves white stains on the shoes up to the holes). Ideally, a car on such a street should be washed after every trip. In practice, however, there is no point in going to the car wash and then returning home along the same Reagenzienstrasse. As a result, many winter drivers wash their car no more than once a month. The consequence is more minor scratches, the replacement of the anti-corrosion coating and therefore the beginning of the corrosion process.
Use a few tips to help extend the life of your bodywork
Wash the floor. Ask the operator at the car wash to wash the high-pressure machine, the arches and the floor. It’s good if there’s an elevator or an inspection pit nearby – then you can look under the car after the winter and assess the damage to the rustproofing (or plastic protection). Immediately it is necessary to put a little bit of anticorrosive agent (from 100 UAH per can) over the damaged places – it will suffice till autumn.
Evaluation of body condition. Check the condition of paint. The most exposed places are fenders and hood. Chips and scratches must be painted over with special caparand or nail polish. If the damage is noticeable, it is better to drive to a car repair shop and have it repaired.
Among the wheels. Check all the antlers: Damage to one of them can put the car out of commission.
Set the summer.
It is believed that you should change from “winter” to “summer” the same day the ambient air temperature went over zero to 7 degrees. When the road is warmer, the brake takeout increases by 15-20%.
Take a closer look at your winter tires – if they are worn out, you can buy a winter set at a discount (up to 60%) now. There is a storage problem – if there is no garage, it is better to use the services of a warehouse (30 UAH per month). But we have found the most attractive prices for summer tires in online stores. True, it makes sense to deal with auto stores and supermarkets – they sometimes arrange sales. True, it all depends on the size of the wheels – models of wheels with a low profile are only on the service market. And remember, the seller and the installer must have different organizations/people – otherwise you can be pushed a crooked rubber (outwardly it is not visible).
On Nenovo cars, the muffler is one of the most exposed parts – the already mentioned reagent slightly corrodes the thin metal on the holes. The problem is that it happens gradually, and the driver gets used to the increased volume and continues to drive with interruptions. Of course, it does not affect the speed, but, firstly, it creates other difficulties, and secondly, it reduces the comfort in the car. It is best to “listen” to someone who drives the same model.
Muffler breakage is not that expensive – for 100-200 UAH it is fine. If the damage is too serious, it must be replaced. The rule of choice is the same – a quality muffler cannot cost less than 1000 UAH. It also must be heavy by weight and produce a dull knocking sound. If the sound resembles an empty bucket, it is a fake.
Rules of replacement of automobile liquids
At gas stations, foremen often advise changing the oil in the engine and gearbox, coolant and brake fluids after winter. Of course, new fluids are always better than old ones, and such advice does no harm. But remember, gas stations are always interested in providing as much service and selling as many parts and supplies as possible. So if it’s not time for maintenance yet, you must justify the need for urgent replacement of all fluids. And we’ll name the cases where it’s really necessary.
Brake and coolant fluids. Almost all automakers recommend not changing the “brake fluid” more often than once every 30,000 km. If you do not remember the last time it was changed, of course, it is better to conduct the process of replacement. But if the fluid was changed in autumn, why then? The same situation is with the coolant: if it is fresh, it makes no sense to change it in honor of spring.
OIL. The vast majority of engine and transmission oils are multi-zone. This means that if oil with a viscosity from 0W30 to 15W50 has been poured, an early change (before 10-15,000 km) makes no sense. Seasonal oils (which should be changed during warm weather) theoretically exist, but over the past 10 years, I personally have not seen them in car dealerships.
FILTER. But it is better to change fuel and air filters – the first one often rusts in winter and the second one gets clogged with mud. We recommend immediately filling the fuel tank with an alcohol additive that removes condensation.
AIR CONDITIONER. To diagnose it, just turn it on. If the cabin is not cooling, most likely there is freon left. In this case, you need to check the tightness of the system at the gas station, fix the leak and recharge it. But in any case, change the cabin filter. A lot of dirt accumulates on it in winter. And with the onset of heat unpleasant smell enters the cabin.
5 extra inspections for cars over 5 years old
If a car has been on Ukrainian roads for several years, standard spring diagnostic procedures should be extended to include additional tests.
BATTERY. We advise replacing the maintenance-free model with a new one – now there are many companies that are ready to come with a new battery directly to the place of car storage and even buy an old one (from 70 to 200 UAH depending on weight). It is easier with the railroad – it is enough just to change the electrolyte.
Cooling system. It is necessary to check the work of thermostat and fan switch sensor. To do this, put the car at operating temperature and touch the tubes yourself. If everything is working properly, the upper tube should heat up first, after 2-3 minutes – the lower tube, and after a few minutes more the cooling fan should start. If something is wrong, you must urgently visit a service station.
Brakes. Even if the fluid is new, it is necessary to test-drive on an empty road (preferably in a closed area). In the case of sudden braking from 40 km/h, the pedal on the car should be sufficient at the highest point or in the middle, while the car must keep the trajectory – the body should not take away either to the left or right, and also should not turn around. If it does not, urgently to the service station.
You should be very concerned when the pedal falls to the floor – this is a sign of a brake master cylinder failure.
LATER. The easiest way to diagnose it yourself is to listen for noises when driving on rough streets. If you hear a knock or squeal, you need to go to the service. It’s good if only the silent blocks or shock absorbers are faulty, but if the ball joint is knocking, it will soon break and you will have to call a tow truck.
Camber/Clearance. To check the correctness of half-axle measurement is simple: accelerate on a level road up to 70-80 km/h and release the steering wheel for 2-3 seconds. When the car will drive sideways, you need to move on to the adjustment.