Five tips for your car’s spring clean

Rejoice! Spring is finally here, and as we are set to benefit from early nights and warmer weather, you’ve now got a great chance to give your car some desperately needed TLC after what was another tough Great British winter.

Car Washing

Winters are hard on us all, especially our vehicles. Bad weather conditions can really take their toll on your car and this is made worse if you haven’t been able to properly maintain your car for a couple of months. Make up for those months of winter neglect by giving your vehicle a well deserved spring clean.

5. Clean the inside

If you’ve got an older car, there’s every chance that the inside remained damp throughout the entire winter period because wet shoes and clothes brought in moisture, and there simply wasn’t the heat required to dry it out. This means that your carpets and other upholstery might be discoloured, or even worse, rotting. The first thing you need to do is remove your mats before vacuuming, and then shampoo your carpets. It’s always worth doing this on a warm, sunny day because you can keep your doors open to dry out your car, though do keep your eye on it, as burglaries can happen anywhere at any time.

If you notice wet patches underneath the carpet then this might be a sign of water penetration, which can lead to serious problems. In this case it’s always worth having your car looked at by professionals at a local Trust My Garage member, who will locate the point of water and rectify the problem for you.

As this is springtime, and it’s a fresh start for us all, why not invest in some new mats, or even a brand new air freshener? Go on, be daring…

4. Check the outside

Over the course of the long hard winter your car will have collected a lot of mud and grime, and it’s not just for superficial reasons that you need to remove it. If you’ve got a particularly dirty car you might be wondering where the best place is to start, but by focusing on the roof first it’ll allow your shampoo and warm water to rinse down the car and soak the particularly stubborn dirt that’s collected at the bottom. Pay special attention to the undersides of the doors and sills and have a look for any areas of corrosion and stone chips which will only get worse over time. If you feel uncomfortable about this then consult your local Trust My Garage member as soon as possible.

Next it’s time to sort out the underneath of your car, and this is probably the part you’re dreading the most. It’s not surprising that it’s the underside of your car that takes the real brunt of the winter conditions, and when you consider the grit and salt that are put on the roads it’s vital you remove any build ups because they can be corrosive.

Hose down the underside of your vehicle and ensure you pay special attention to the front and rear wheel arches, where there will be a lot of mud and salt.

3. Fluids

Your vehicle’s fluids will have likely depleted over the winter period, especially your windscreen washer fluid which was constantly battling against rain streaks. You should be regularly checking your oil levels anyway so now is the perfect time to check your dipstick. If your car is consuming unusually high levels of oil then it could indicate a problem with your engine. You should also look at your engine coolant levels and top your coolant up when necessary.

2. Carry out other vital checks

Your tyres will have gone through a lot over the course of the winter because of poor road surfaces and potholes caused by heavy rain, and now is a perfect time for you to ensure they’re safe.

Your tyre tread will become worn over time, and though the legal minimum is 1.6mm, we strongly recommend you have at least 3mm.

When your tyres are under-inflated the car’s handling will seriously deteriorate and your car may behave unpredictably and erratically. You should check your pressure at least once a month and before you set off on any long journeys. Consult your handbook so you know the right pressure, as this differs between makes and models. Once you’ve found the correct pressure level you need to use an accurate pressure gauge. Wait for your tyres to cool down and take the dust cap off the valve, fix the gauge on and take a note of the pressure result. If it’s too low then you can pump it up at home, use facilities provided by many petrol stations or head to a local trusted independent garage. If it’s too high then let some air out by pressing down on the valve stem.

Once spring comes around it’ll probably be time for you to replace your windscreen wipers as they’ll have been in almost constant use over the incredibly wet winter we’ve all witnessed, and they will have also have combatted with sharp changes in temperature due to the frosty mornings.

Batteries have to work much harder during periods of cold weather, so old or depleted batteries will need to be replaced. If your battery is over three-years-old you should be getting it checked and, if necessary, replaced. It may seem expensive at the time, but it can be cheaper than a recovery bill. You may think that you can replace a battery yourself but if you have a modern car with a ‘stop-start’ system it is important to fit the correct type of battery.  For some modern cars a replacement battery must be ‘coded’ to the car and this is definitely a job for a garage.

Brakes also need to be checked ahead of spring time. You will need to make sure your brake fluid is at the correct level as low brake fluid can be an indication of excessive brake wear or fluid leak. Have the brake discs inspected and measured as well as checking for pad wear.

1. Have your car serviced at a local Trust My Garage member

These checks will play a vital part in your car’s overall wellbeing, and although you should get into the routine of carrying out these checks regularly, there’s no substitute for having your vehicle looked at by a professional. A Trust My Garage (TMG) member will ensure that your vehicle has not been badly damaged by winter weather conditions and is safe and fit for driving during the new season. The quality offered by independent garages is no less than that offered by main dealers. TMG members have the same access to technical information and expertise to ensure that your vehicle remains roadworthy whatever the weather and whatever the season.

Visit the Trust My Garage website to find your nearest member.

About trustmygarage

TRUST MY GARAGE (TMG) is a scheme developed for independent garages by the Independent Garage Association (IGA) to recognise the high standards of independent garages throughout the UK.

Posted on March 21, 2014, in car maintenance, Car tips, Trust My Garage, Tyre maintenance, vehicle repairs and servicing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great post! Particularly think point 4 is important as you are spot on, metal can corrode with the harsh environment so it is important to keep an eye on it.

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