With spring in full bloom and summer looming next month, it’s important to know which parts of your vehicle need to be inspected for the changing road conditions ahead, and what the routine assessments and proper upkeep of these vital components can mean to the life and health of your car.
Changing Seasons Bring Changing Needs
This time of year brings unique challenges for drivers. Of course, the most obvious difference between each season is a change in temperature, and no change in seasons is more drastic than that of winter to spring.
Winters are notoriously tough on cars, so it’s critical to double check that several key parts are in proper condition before spring driving. Tire pressure and tread, headlights, batteries, wiper blades and fluid and oil condition are all elements that can be negatively impacted by winter weather. Also, its highly recommended that drivers inspect their tire valves. “Winter driving provides plenty of opportunity for dirt, sand, salt and/or rocks to enter these vital spaces which could lead to tire deflation,” said Kenn Miller, Store Manager for Bauer Built in Mason, City, IA. Thus, car owners should check valve condition and that covers are firmly in place before hitting the road this spring. “Valve covers are like screen doors to your tires, they keep out all the debris,” added Miller. To maximize safety, car owners should remove their wheels entirely to ensure all debris and salt accumulated through the winter is eliminated.
Know What to Focus On
After the wear and tear of winter, spring is the ideal time to undergo a car inspection before problems worsen and repair bills balloon. Due to their proximity to the road, Bauer Built Tire & Service suggests that drivers place special emphasis on struts, suspension and braking systems prior to spring and soon summer vacation driving.
Suspension: This system connects the wheels to the vehicle, providing a comfortable ride while keeping tires on the road for traction. During the winter, road buckling can occur, and as warming temperatures lead to thaws, potholes previously unseen become increasingly hazardous to a car’s undercarriage. (Check out the damage hitting a pothole at 30 mph can cause in this Popular Mechanics video.) As part of your spring checkup, look for corrosion, worn or wearing suspension components seals and lubrication loss at suspension points.
Struts: Working in tandem with the suspension, the struts absorb shock from the wheels, and if not properly maintained, can adversely affect alignment and steering. Cold weather strains strut coils, weakening these parts as the winter season wears on. Each spring, struts should be checked for physical damage, such as leaking, rusting or dents.
Brakes: Perhaps a car’s most important feature, brakes can be depleted by winter debris. It’s critical to make sure your braking system is functioning correctly before driving on rainy, slick springtime roads and can efficiently dissipate the heat caused by the increased operating temperatures when traveling hot roads. Brake pads, rotors and drums should be inspected for wear, grooving and thickness after each winter. Also, ensure that your brake fluid is at the manufacturer’s recommended level.
Bauer Built is committed to keeping drivers safe on the road through changing seasons and varying road conditions. We pride ourselves on providing helpful tips that will keep your car in tip-top condition, capable of taking on whatever the road throws at it each season while helping to extend its lifecycle for years to come.
To learn more about what you need to look for during a car inspection, click here.